Prepare for the Future
Not surprisingly, users have implemented SANs in different ways, but most are preparing for future growth. For example, The Motley Fool and Home Depot1 use Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop (FCAL) and will need to migrate to a switched fabric architecture before they can add any more servers, clients, or applications to their SANs.
Users agree, though, that relying on a systems vendor or integrator for your first SAN implementation is the wise route. You should also expect your vendor to guarantee interoperability between Fibre Channel and Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) devices.
It is reasonable to choose a vendor to implement a limited package. It is also unlikely that a vendor would be able to completely understand business applications and where a midsize to large business is going.
The plan for a data infrastructure closely parallels the network and systems infrastructure. Blending the three into a single cohesive network is necessary to the planning. That way, storage becomes another infrastructure resource that users can manage. This strategy also helps ensure network, applications, and other groups in the enterprise network environment interoperate.
Successful SAN implementation also depends in large part on getting the approval of management. For example, most SAN deployments are just the start of a much larger SAN implementation that management has approved and provided the funds for.
Ensuring that you get a properly funded program and a disciplined investment plan rather than budgeting in fits and starts is important. You don't want the first application to have to bear all the cost. You need to think about planning for this, investing in it, and then allocating the cost back to the business across multiple applications.
With that in mind, companies functioning in the same vertical market with the same basic needs will often choose very different solutions, but all achieve satisfying results. Now let's look at how to deploy a SAN by examining how three companies in the digital printing industry fulfilled similar storage needs in three distinct ways.