What is SAN and How can it Benefit Your Company

What Is A SAN?

SAN (or Storage Area Network)  is a high-speed network with block-level access to data storage. It is the most common storage networking architecture and is used by enterprises for business-critical applications (click here for an overview of storage networking architectures). It provides high throughput and low latency. A SAN is composed of hosts, switches, storage elements, and storage devices that are connected by different technologies, topologies, and protocols. To a host, a SAN presents storage devices in a way that they appear to be locally attached by using various forms of virtualization. SANs are commonly based on Fibre Channel (FC) technology that utilizes the Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) for open systems and proprietary variants for mainframes. In addition, the use of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) makes it possible to move FC traffic onto a single cable across existing high-speed Ethernet infrastructures, converged storage, and IP protocols.

What Are SANs Used For?

There are several main functions a SAN is used for. Listed below are a few of them.

      • Boost application performance utilizing things like off-load storage functions and segregate networks.
      • Increase application availability
      • Improve storage utilization
      • Increase data protection and security
      • Consolidate storage resources
      • Assist in Business Continuity Management (BCM) activities.

Types Of SANs

Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) : One of the most common types of SANs, accounting for 70% to 80% of the total number. It is designed to carry serial SCSI-3 data over optical fiber networks. For this variant, the throughput ranges from 100MB/s to 1.6 GB/s with a distance stretching from 500 meters (1640.42 ft) to 10 kilometers (6.21 miles). The Internet Small Computer System Interface protocol (iSCSI) is utilized in approximately 10% to 15% of all SANs.  It transports block-level between the iSCSI initiator on a server and an iSCSI target on the storage device. iSCSI encapsulates SCSI commands inside an Ethernet frame and then uses an IP Ethernet network for transport.

Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE):  FCoE is used in less than 5% of all SANs. It is similar to iSCSI since it encapsulates an FC frame inside an Ethernet datagram. Then, like iSCSI, it uses an IP Ethernet network for transport.

Non-Volatile Memory Express over Fibre Channel (FC-NVMe):  NVMe is a host controller interface designed to increase the transfer of data. It is an interface protocol for accessing flash storage via a PCI Express (PCIe) bus. NVMe supports thousands of parallel queues. Each of these queues supports thousands of concurrent commands.

Benefits Of Choosing A SAN

Improved Disk Utilization

Perhaps the greatest advantage of a SAN is its improved disk utilization. Direct attached storage (DAS) utilizes around 30% of the disk while SAN improves on that with around 80%. Greater utilization decreases the number of disks and drives needed, reducing the entire cost associated with storage devices and systems.

Less Backup Time

SANs are the best solution whenever a company is faced with extensive backup time within an enterprise or data storage environment. SANs have a unique ability to duplicate data almost instantly, making them ideal for data backup.

Centralized Backup

Block level, incremental backups, and streamlined IT system administrator responsibilities are a few special features provided by SAN to improve the backup process.

Disaster Recovery

SAN provides the capability to connect distant locations to secondary storage arrays. This helps protect data if a localized disaster destroys local data storage devices. When data is duplicated with SAN, it enables faster recovery for an organization; the data is preserved offsite and just needs to be transferred back over to the main location.

Redundancy

Similar to the above-mentioned disaster recovery advantage, SAN also protects data through local redundancy. A redundant array of disks is used by SAN and is viewed as a local volume from the servers that are attached to it. This allows for high availability with fast disk input/output performance when compared to a Network Area Storage (NAS). SAN’s are among the common virtualization clusters giving out centralized access to databases that are heavily input/output intensive.

High-Speed Disk Technologies

SAN provides data retrieval at speeds surpassing 5 Gbps.

Conclusion:

SAN is an excellent choice for many IT departments spanning many industries. The benefits of SAN systems are only offset by the price of the enterprise hardware required to build them. thomastech provides that enterprise hardware to meet your IT environment’s needs at an attractive price, slashing your costs. Beyond providing IT systems and hardware, thomastech further empowers IT departments to keep data moving by offering support and maintenance services. To learn more about the advantages of partnering with thomastech, click the free consultation button at the top or call us at (330) 225-311. Around the globe, other IT departments are using thomastech’s services and are experiencing simpler contracts, faster resolutions, reduced costs, and more uptime. Start today.

Home –

Empowering CIO's and IT Professionals

Keep Data Moving!

Servicing a Server While Holding a Laptop

Third party support and maintenance solutions for enterprise servers, storage, and networking. Centered around the demands of your organization, thomastech empowers you to keep data moving while simplifying the process.

Claim Simplicity

Multi-vendor management under one contract, one source for hardware and support, one call for direct access to tech support specialists. Keep your data moving.

Cut Costs

OEM’s place end-of-life restrictions and unreasonable tech support rates. thomastech allows you to extend the useful working life of your system all while reducing costs by 30-70%.
 

Capture Confidence

Capture confidence in your systems with support and hardware from thomastech. Keep your data moving by keeping your systems running. Partner with us today.

Is your current maintenance provider right for you?

Not all maintenance providers are created equal. thomastech provides flexible solutions to fit your growing needs. Hover over (or tap) the boxes to learn how thomastech compares to other third party maintenance providers (TPM). Would you like to receive service centered around you and save money at the same time? If yes, read on or request your free consultation now.

Other TPM's Capabilities

Many TPMs outsource most, if not all, their level three engineering support, ticketing, triage, and hardware procurement leading to inefficiencies and slower resolutions.

thomastech's In-House Capabilities

With thomastech, you have direct access to our level three engineers, internal hardware inventory, and streamlined ticketing and triage processes. This ensures our partners faster resolutions, lower costs, and reduced downtime.

Other TPM's SLAs and Services

Many TPMs have strict preset SLAs that often fail to meet your specific requirements. You know what you need, are you being heard?

thomastech's SLAs and Services

At thomastech, we listen to your needs. SLA's are customized to adapt to your unique IT environment. 

Other TPM's Support

Often IT departments settle for sub-par support and service, making everyday operations confusing and stressful. Do you have full confidence in your system and support?

thomastech's Support

Here at thomastech, we are a trusted partner for IT managers around the globe providing them 24/7 support. Having won multiple Inc. 5000 awards, thomastech helps partners achieve success and confidence in their systems.

Up Time Matters, Why Choose thomastech?

System failure can happen at any moment, are you prepared? Are you tired of managing multiple costly OEM contracts and End-of-Life restrictions? You are not alone, and there is a solution! Many IT professionals around the globe are turning to thomastech for cost saving solutions (up to 70%). With thomastech’s support, you have direct access to top-tier engineers with a vast inventory of enterprise hardware. You are given the choice to decide when to retire your own equipment or extend its life. thomastech offers multi-vendor support under one contract, with SLA options to fit every need and budget. As a result, CIO’s and IT professionals can reduce risks and costs associated with downtime and unnecessary data migration. View the chart to see how thomastech compares to the OEMs.

thomastech’s Reputation:

Within the TPM industry, thomastech is well established and recognized as a global TPM partner with over a decade of experience. For two years in a row, thomastech has received multiple Inc. 5000 awards. Why not switch? Click below to  start.

 

The Main Features

These six “S”s only capture a few features you can have when you partner with thomastech.

Significant Cost Savings vs. OEM

Speedy Shipping and Delivery

Simple Support Contracts

Sizable Hardware Inventory

Service Onsite Usually in 4 Hours

Specialized Support Available 24/7

SAVING MONEY

Third Party Support

What if you knew of a way to reduce support costs by up to 70% and extend the useful life of your current systems? As you probably know, each system has its own lifecycle. Regardless of where it is in its lifecycle, third-party support is a cost-saving alternative for an attractive price. Third party support from thomastech is quite simple. It is an alternative to expensive OEM based support. OEM support often causes problems for IT personnel with high costs, multiple support contracts, planned obsolescence, and more. By choosing thomastech’s support, life becomes simpler and risks are reduced. Click the button below to see how you can save up to 70%.

SAVING MONEY

Hardware

Consider thomastech as your global IT distribution partner. Our extensive inventory of enterprise hardware allows us to service, upgrade, and mirror your critical systems in most environments. We deliver the hardware and services that you require in order to Keep Data Moving. Main Features: – Out of the box servers, storage, and networking systems – Rapid Part Deployment for replacement parts and upgrades – Rental and leasing options for short and long-term periods – Data migration assistance and swing boxes – Flexible solutions based on your organization’s needs.

Jeff Parker
Jeff ParkerDirector of IT at Carriage Services
I recently completed a project of redesigning my entire server room infrastructure to leverage virtual computing power and had the pleasure of working with ThomasTech to get my storage and physicals where they needed to be. They were very responsive and worked diligently to get me what I needed. Working with thomastech allowed me to enjoy significant savings without sacrificing quality and all of the equipment that I purchased from them was able to be fully warrantied and supported by the manufacturer. thomastech will be my first choice for future storage and server needs.
Russ Coxe
Russ CoxeChief Technical Officer at DesignDATA
thomastech is a great business partner. They have supplied several HP 3PAR systems for our data center at a reasonable cost along with support and maintenance after the initial sale. We will continue to look to thomastech for our storage needs.
Previous
Next

Choose an SLA or Build Your Own

27x7x4

  • 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year
  • Initial diagnosis by phone​
  • Field Engineer dispatched to site (if required) within 4 hours of initial diagnosis

9x5x4

  • 8 AM – 5PM, Monday-Friday
  • Initial diagnosis by phone
  • Field Engineer dispatched to site (if required) within 4 hours of initial diagnosis

Next Business Day

  • 9 AM – 5PM, Monday-Friday
  • Initial diagnosis by phone
  • Field Engineer dispatched to site (if required)

Backline

  • 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year
  • Phone Support

Ready to get started?

Use the button below and complete the form for a free consultation.

Address: 620 E. Smith Road, Enterprise Center Suite D Medina, OH 44256

Phone: (330) 225-3117

thomastech © 2019

What are Your Data Storage Needs?

The problem:
Organizations are gathering and generating data at unprecedented levels, which creates unimaginable headaches for overworked and underfunded IT managers.

The reliance on emails, shared files, application data, digitized records, data-backups, and marketing collateral (like videos and images) are at an all-time high. Not only do these files need to be stored, but they also need to be accessed and deployed at an accelerated rate. A low estimate for data growth is somewhere between 25% and 40% annually, this outpaces IT budgets by 10-fold. Combine this with exponential data growth, it is not surprising that businesses are looking for alternative methods to reduce costs while keeping data secure and protected.

Good News:

Even with the industry’s increase in data storage requirements, technological advances are becoming more cost effective as time progresses. The overall per-gigabyte price is falling for hard disk and associated data storage, backup, and archiving solutions as technology matches demands. This reduction in cost is helping IT departments stretch their budgets further and to purchase more storage. Now, there are multiple options available to purchase used hardware from vendors around the globe. While there are many options for purchasing hardware, IT managers must consider the following: if the used hardware has been inspected by qualified engineers/technicians, properly handled, refurbished with optimized testing, and professionally packaged for shipping.

Between organizations, data needs and data storage requirements vary. Each organization is unique, and solutions that work for one organization may not work for another. As a result, the challenge is to identify the solution and then implement the best option for your IT environment.

Your Data Demands:
Understanding your data demands begins with understanding the value of your organization’s data. Data fuels many companies and industries. The value placed on the data determines how you handle it. In order to better assess the value of your data, here are a few fundamental questions many IT managers and staff consider.
  • How available does the data need to be? Is it accessed often?
  • How easy is the data to recover?
  • How quickly must the data be recovered if lost?
  • How long does the data need to be retained?
  • How secure must the data be?
  • What regulations affect the data, its storage, and its processing?

Once the value based questions are answered, data must be prioritized based on how critical it is to operations to effectively utilize data management resources. Based on how critical the data is, resources must be properly designated. While considering the priority of one’s different data requirements, many IT managers find it helpful to establish their data retention policies to conform to both internal and external forces.

Data within the organization is kept in enterprise storage, a centralized repository for information. Enterprise storage provides common data management, data protection, and data sharing capabilities. To accommodate the extensive mission-critical information within a company, enterprise storage systems should be scalable without needing extensive cabling or the creation of subsystems. Many IT departments also look for features that allow for unlimited connectivity and support for multiple platforms.

Simple Solution:

Protecting, maintaining, processing, and dispersing data are all major concerns of an IT manager. These IT functions can be overwhelming to the modern IT professional. Each of the enterprise storage systems must be maintained, parts sourced, and multiple support contracts managed. thomastech offers a simplified approach with 24/7 multi-vendor support focused on individual needs. Level three engineers are readily accessible at thomastech and enterprise hardware is available from the large in-house inventory. thomastech’s hardware inventory is engineer tested, refurbished, and verified to be in the optimal operating condition. The maintenance service and enterprise hardware from thomastech cuts costs, stretches budgets, and effectively empowers IT professionals so they can keep data moving.To learn more, visit the support or hardware page, call (330) 225-3117, or complete the contact form to request a free consultation.

How to Decide Which SLA is Right For You

Which SLA

What is an SLA?

SLAs (Service Level Agreements) are the governing force in the relationship between the consumer and an enterprise support provider. SLAs clearly define what is expected by both parties with measurable objectives. An example is a signed agreement between an IT department and a support provider. The SLA spells out when and how the support service will be conducted. An OLA (Operating Level Agreement) is another name for SLAs but is for agreements within an organization without an established provider-customer relationship. Now, let’s dive into the three different types of SLAs.

Service Based SLAs                              

A Service-Based SLA is one identical service pack for all customers. This type of agreement is essentially “one size fits all;” it does not provide additional options or the ability to flex with individual IT environments. The advantage of this type, however, is that it simplifies the process for the various maintenance providers who utilize this type of SLA.

There are three categories a client will fit into when using a Service-Based SLA. These categories are divided by how efficiently they meet the needs of the customer. The first category contains those whose IT infrastructure requirements perfectly match the tenets of the agreement, while the second category contains clients who are paying for services that they are never able to fully utilize. In the third category, clients find the Service-Based SLA inadequate to meet all their needs as their IT environments exceed the specified services. Two examples of how an SLA may not reach the needs of an IT department would be faster response time and a readily available hardware inventory for break-fix scenarios. For many companies looking for third party enterprise support options, Service-Based SLAs may not be the best option if they do not efficiently and effectively meet their needs. Customers who commonly prefer this agreement are IT service providers, corporate IT, and IT service management.

Customer Based SLAs

Customer-Based SLAs are designed to contain all the possible services needed by an organization or department. This SLA is a general overview of all the services contained within a single agreement that is structured around each customer’s needs. The focus on each customer individually is what sets a Customer-Based SLA apart from a Service-Based SLA. An example would be an IT service provider offering several services packaged together within on SLA in order to meet all the needs of a client.

Multi-Level SLAs

The final type of SLA is a Multi-Level SLA. This SLA is customized based on the needs of the end-user client/company. The SLA is divided into three levels and allows the user/client to integrate multiple conditions into the agreement to provide a more suitable service to the client’s needs.

The Multi-Level SLA’s three levels are the corporate, customer, and service levels. The corporate level covers basic service level management (SLM) issues and does not require constant updating. It contains an in-depth discussion of all the necessary parts of the agreement and applies to all customers. The customer level of a Multi-Level SLA focuses on a singular customer group and covers all relevant SLM issues regardless of services used. The Service-Level SLA has a distinct focus on the the individual services and defining the service for the individual client.   

Mathing Needs to SLAs

Many organizations need enterprise system support and maintenance. The support and maintenance process is defined by SLAs. At thomastech, we believe that IT managers need to be given a choice of SLAs and the ability to customize them. After all, IT managers know their own enviroment’s needs, and thus they are the best equipped to make the right choice.

thomastech provides a selection of SLAs that are centered around the core concept of empowering you, the IT professional. The goal of thomastech is to empower you through hardware and enterprise maintenance so you can keep your systems running and your data moving. Going beyond many other third party maintenance providers for enterprise systems, thomastech provides you the freedom to custom-tailor the support process and SLAs to best fit your IT environment. To learn more about our SLAs, visit our support page at https://thomastechllc.com/third-party-tech-support/ or call (330) 225-3117 to speak with a real person to find a personalized solution to your enterprise support needs.

The facts behind new vs. old enterprise IT models that OEMs don’t want you to know

Is the newest model the best choice? The answer would be yes, right? Unfortunately, the answer is not that simple. There are many factors that influence the answer.

OEMs are constantly releasing new models. With each new model, the OEM proclaims it as an upgrade that it solves many IT problems. Not only are IT managers flooded with this information in OEM ads, they experience additional pressure while attending IT conferences and shows from both the OEM and other attendees. All this pressure pushes for a spontaneous purchasing decision versus a planned transition. When an impromptu purchasing decision is made, many IT managers overlook their multi-year plans and stabilization exercises. Is the offer provided by the OEM along with the outside pressure to buy worth discarding all the careful planning that has been put into place?

With every new piece of equipment released, OEMs advertise upgrades made over the previous model. Yet these changes between models are often minor and have little real-world impact. Most of us have had a similar experience even when purchasing consumer IT products. A feature is promoted as an upgrade, but later it is discovered the change/upgrade did not help in the way expected. In some instances, the changes made between models actually decrease the usability of the product thus increasing user frustration. In order for a model change to be accurately called an upgrade, its features must have a measurable benefit to the organization and IT department rather than some extra “chrome”. They should make a noticeable and valuable contribution to mission critical operations within the system’s environment. If the benefit is not significant enough, the older model currently in use may be the better option.

A general consideration for IT departments is if the inter-model feature change is significant enough to merit the additional work and increased capital expenditures. On release, often a new model has undergone only a few slight alterations since the previous model, sometimes just two or three. If these changed features are not vital for mission-critical operations, it may be wise to wait for one or two models to be released before upgrading. This waiting allows departments to jump over intermediate models and pay the price for one system replacement while accumulating multiple features instead of just two or three. This waiting allows for budget maximization while reducing downtime associated with system migration.

As with many other forms of tech, enterprise system models are not without their defects when first released. Often IT products display a bathtub shaped curve demonstrating the failure rates of systems and hardware. When a model is first launched it experiences soaring failure rates. After a while, the failure rate drops and the issues and bugs are worked out as the innovators and early adopters experience the problems. Often it is better to be a member of the early majority, or even in the late majority, on the product adoption bell curve as many of the problems will be fixed and the systems will be more reliable. Waiting too long, on the other hand, places users in the last 16% along with significant chances of system failure rates spiking due to the age of the systems.

Some IT products do not demonstrate the traditional failure rate curve; instead they demonstrate more of a flat or a steady increase in the failure rate. This unusual behaviour results from the root cause being impractical for the OEM to resolve or additional problems becoming apparent over time. For IT departments without unlimited funding, it is safer to remain in the early or late majority when purchasing and adopting the new model of enterprise hardware. New models are especially risky to innovators and early adopters as they have no previous history to determine whether the systems have a high failure rate and are thus unreliable. On the other hand, those following early adopters will know from their experience whether the model is a wise and safe investment.  

When implementing a system swaps for new models, IT departments must determine their system swap procedure to avoid additional costs. There are usually two options when swapping a drive. The first is to maintain a redundant system for transitioning data and users to during the swap, while the second is to shut down the system and cut access to the data. Both methods for swapping systems generate additional costs either from purchasing and managing another system or costs resulting from downtime.

Choosing option two and shutting the system down results in down time. As many know within the IT field, downtime is costly. Probably the highest cost from downtime associated with a system swap is lost revenue. Following lost revenue, other costs are incurred, including those resulting from reduced productivity, lost opportunities, and decreased customer confidence. To avoid or reduce these costs, a solution must be designed around compatibility with existing infrastructure and employees’ usability to allow for a seamless transition. The lower the frequency of system swaps in an IT infrastructure the lower overall associated costs and downtime.

When considering upgrading to a new system, IT managers should consider the additional man-hours incurred as a result of the transition. Not only is work required to move the entire system that is being swapped, but work is also required to reconnect and troubleshoot potential compatibility issues. Once the system is in place, IT staff and company personnel must be retrained. Not only is this time-intensive for production and office staff, but it also requires a significant time investment from those providing the training. A major cost to organizations and their related IT departments is man-hours. As a result, efficient man-hour use is a major consideration for many IT managers so they can maintain their given IT budgets. Increasing the intervals between system swaps decreases the overall man-hour costs.

Many managers at this point are thinking about their legacy hardware and their related support and maintenance needs. The OEM places additional pressure to upgrade systems so they can sell more and increase their profit margins. They do not consider what is best for IT managers and their budgets as their goal is to increase sales. As a result, support costs skyrocket when it is time to renegotiate the SLAs. Once a system is sunsetted by the OEM, no support is provided by the OEM regardless of the price, leaving departments without support for functioning systems. Thomastech provides a solution.

With Thomastech’s support, many managers receive up to a 70% savings compared to the OEM’s SLAs. Thomastech focuses on streamlining and simplifying the support and maintenance process. Thomastech accomplishes this by providing direct access to level three engineers, extensive internal hardware inventory, support for all your OEMs in one place and a streamlined ticketing and triage process. All of these features ensure a faster resolution, lower costs, and reduced downtime.