Does a SAN File System Fit the Bill?
By dynamically allocating storage to each server on the network based on actual need at any given time, SAN file systems address a host of problems inherent in the NAS storage paradigm. But are they worth the price?With storage needs growing exponentially in virtually every industry today, many organizations have jumped on the storage and server consolidation bandwagon, installing NAS (network-attached storage) systems to manage their growing needs. But for some, this method has become increasingly inefficient as more servers are added throughout the organization, making the process more complex and unwieldy. For those companies, SAN file systemsa relatively new storage paradigm that dynamically allocates storage to each server on the network based on actual need at any given timemight fit the bill. SAN file systems are now available from a host of companies including Apple Computer Inc., IBM, Sun Microsystems Inc., ADIC (Advanced Digital Information Corp.), DataPlow, ClariStor and others. Apples 64-bit cluster Xsan file system for Mac OS allows organizations to consolidate storage resources and provide multiple computers with concurrent file-level read/write access to shared volumes over Fibre Channel, according to Alex Grossman, senior director of server and storage hardware at the Cupertino, Calif.-based company. The result, he says, is centralized storage management.
Other companies offer similar products. IBMs TotalStorage SAN File System provides a network-based, heterogeneous file system for data sharing and a centralized policy-based storage management capability, while ADICs StorNext Management Suite for SANs combines a file system and storage manager to optimize the use of SAN storage and help ensure the recoverability of data, according to Paul Rutherford, vice president of technology at the Redmond, Wash., company.