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What data storage solutions can help with increases in data-transfer volumes and bottlenecks?

How can a systems integrator or reseller help their customers address current increases in data-transfer volumes and bottlenecks?

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Chances are that many companies now are facing increasing storage demands. Large enterprises may already have systems in place to address the increased need. However, until recently SMBs have been overlooking their own growing storage needs. They may have been sitting happily with limited direct-attached storage (DAS) or storage islands. Now they realize that they have some of the same demands on their storage infrastructure as some large companies.

As a VAR you can help them assess whether it is the right time to implement a shared SAN infrastructure. This can be accomplished relatively inexpensively with the maturing iSCSI protocol. The advantage with many iSCSI arrays is that they often have their own cache, processors, memory and network ports. So, when you add one to a pool of virtualized storage, you are adding more processing power and throughput. If the customer is concerned about potential bottlenecks, network ports on iSCSI arrays can often be aggregated.

However, keep in mind that the bottleneck may not always be in the storage array. It could be in the server, the networking equipment (switch) or even in a particular application that is utilizing the storage. When analyzing the customer's environment, I find it useful to approach the project using the OSI model. Start from the physical layer and work your way up to the application layer, measuring potential bottlenecks along the way. Collecting logs and measuring performance to establish a baseline acceptable behavior for a storage infrastructure before implementing a complicated storage system can go a long way when you are in the initial design phases of an assessment project.

This was first published in July 2007

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