Bandwidth challenges

By eweek  |  Posted 2003-06-11 Print this article Print

eWeek: Ed, is bandwidth for some of your remote sites a more difficult challenge? Benincasa: Were not having too much trouble because the remote sites are smaller sales-office-type situations, so there isnt a huge load. Were pretty much running VPNs [virtual private networks] to all facilities worldwide today. Its easy for us to up the bandwidth; we havent had too much trouble there.
eWeek: Those remotes sites, are they coming in by dial-up?
Benincasa: No, these are site-to-site VPNs. eWeek: So far weve been talking about the network pretty much as if it were a single platform. We havent really talked about the notion of whether there should be one network for general use and one network for storage. Skaff: Were doing primarily JBOD [just a bunch of disks] right now, but were moving toward separating off a network for storage because our storage needs are going through the roof right now. eWeek: Do you expect thats likely to be Fibre Channel or IP-based or what? Skaff: We havent decided yet. Were still reviewing the technologies, but a change is probably coming in the next three to six months. eWeek: The reason for splitting the functions is to maintain performance on your general-purpose network while the storage network demand grows? Skaff: Very nicely summarized, yes. Baradet: We are in the process of putting in a separate network in our machine room area, to run backups and move data disk to disk so we can get the traffic off of the network that the end users hit against. We havent quite figured out what were going to do as far as the disk interfaces. My guess is well probably go with iSCSI simply because, that way, we can do two disk backups overnight and then from disk to tape during the day. eWeek: This would address one of the questions about doing things in your shrinking or nonexistent maintenance windows? Baradet: Correct. By restricting it, were most likely going to do it all on fiber, so were not going to have to worry about changing out any wiring as the bandwidth needs go up. Then it will also be secure because it will all be contained, and there will be no outside access to this particular network. eWeek: Ed, do you try to provide centralized backup for your outlying offices, or do you leave that to them? Benincasa: The backup is at the actual facility itself. We use cartridge units, and we just manage it from this facility here. eWeek: Its remotely managed but locally stored? Benincasa: Yes, because theres too much data to push over a VPN line. eWeek: In your larger facilities, are you using a unified network or a separate storage network? Benincasa: Its a unified network. eWeek: Do you expect that to be sufficient for the foreseeable future? Benincasa: Yes, I do. Weve got some extra capacity still in it, so we think were okay. Gunnerson: We have everything. What Kevin said about putting your backup on anther network, we do that in our data centers all of the time. It just makes a lot of sense and keeps the collisions down when you have to run 24-by-7. Each one of our newspapers has its own systems, and they all do their own backups--so were distributed that way. In a regional environment, where were consolidating resources, we have a dark fiber network that uses DWDM [Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing], which means I can use an optical wavelength to segment that one pair of glass fibers to multiple virtual optical channels. I can use those for my storage area network. eWeek: You can have virtually separate networks on a single piece of fiber? Gunnerson: Thats correct. eWeek: And divide their functions between general-purpose network activity and more specific storage functions, for example? Gunnerson: Weve got design plans that show Fibre Channel running right over the top of the same pair of fibers as everything else in the DWDM network. eWeek: You have protocol diversity as well as multiple channels? Gunnerson: Protocol diversity, and I can also spin up additional IP circuits that are dedicated specifically to running over IP. eWeek: How do you feel about the maturity of the DWDM offerings available now? Gunnerson: I think theyre great--if we didnt have an ROI on it, we wouldnt have done it. The nice thing about it is once you explain how that works to everybody in the networking and storage business, they all go, OK, Ill get my own, and we have a shared infrastructure, and theyre all happy. It works out really well.


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