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Get ready to get smart with SANs

StorageExperts

 

AshwinSVJ.jpgBy Ashwin Kumar S V, Product Manager, HP Storage

 

HP Smart SAN is integrated into the HP 3PAR Operating System and into the firmware of HP 3PAR StoreServ HBAs and switches. Based on open standards, HP Smart SAN extends 3PAR StoreServ autonomic capabilities outside of the array to the SAN fabric. Clearly it’s a smart idea whose time has come! 

 

Let’s start with the SAN basics.

As you probably know, Storage Area Networks (SANs) plays a critical role in your data center by providing access and connectivity between storage arrays and servers through a dedicated network. SANs offer significant advantages by ensuring availability of data, uptime of and performance for your applications.

 

But over time SANs have become increasingly complex.simpify_ATSB_iStock_000072246541_02Sept_sized.jpg

In a typical midsized SAN today, you will find multiple device/element managers, a combination of protocols (FC, FCoE, iSCSI), devices from different vendors (storage rrays, Switches, HBAs/CNAs) and as a result multiple management, diagnostic and reporting frameworks Such characteristics have introduced complexities that result in an increase in:

  • Manual configuration, monitoring and management tasks
  • Slowness in establishing new services
  • Increased risk of downtime due to possible incorrect configurations
  • Limited diagnostics and troubleshooting capabilities
  • The need to learn and use additional software and GUIs

With manual configurations involving SANs, zoning is a key step.

The current industry practices mostly employ techniques to configure zones on an initiator basis. A zone consists of a single initiator and all its targets, or more preferably just a single initiator and a single target port in a zone.

 

There are several advantages in this method, but the downside of it is that users have to create a large number of zones—and this usually takes hours in a mid-sized SAN, even with existing SAN management tools and automated scripts. For example: In a mid-sized SAN consisting of 9 fabric switches, zone configuration for 128 host initiators and 8 target ports takes 2 hours with 1024 zones getting configured.

 

The diagnostic and troubleshooting capabilities are restricted either to within the storage array or to specific sections of the SAN. SAN administrators need to decode information from multiple points to solve issues which could cause downtime. To address these problems, you need:

  • Automation that seamlessly fits into the existing workflow, reduces steps and time without introducing new complexities—all without requiring you to learn a new process
  • A simpler yet powerful zoning solution that saves time
  • Diagnostics and troubleshooting capabilities that span the network and aren’t restricted to within the primary storage array
  • Protocol agnosticism with seamless support for iSCSI, Fibre Channel, and FCoE

SmartSAN.jpgExisting solutions attempt to solve this problem but they tend to introduce …yes you got it…more complexity. So what you get ends up looking like Rube Goldberg machines nice to look at but incredibly complex to setup and make them work.*

 

Say hello to simplicity with HP Smart SAN.

We developed HP Smart SAN to redefine SANs—and to move away from hardware-defined storage networking to a software-defined storage networking. Smart SAN, in its first release, addresses configuration related inefficiencies in the area of zoning. It sets the platform up for rapid and useful advancements in the areas of diagnostics and troubleshooting in the future releases.

 

With Smart SAN’s Target Driven Peer Zoning (TDPZ), all the initiator-based zoning advantages can be achieved with much less complexity, less time and more accuracy. The zones are created and managed by the storage array itself and it removes the requirement for configuring zones before actually provisioning hosts and LUNs on the array. Such a process is more efficient, less error prone and, in a majority of cases, zones can be configured in minutes not in hours, as was the case previously.

 

Consider the same example as earlier: In a midsized SAN consisting of 9 fabric switches, zone configuration for 128 host initiators and 8 target ports takes 2 hours with 1024 zones getting configured. Using HP Smart SAN, the number of zones to be configured gets reduced to just 16 and it takes just about a minute!

 

Through device registrations enabled by HP Smart SAN, you can now troubleshoot network issues faster by seeing all device information from a single point in the fabric—and you can do all of this without an external management server.

 

Wave goodbye to SAN complexity!

A part of our recent flash storage announcements, HP Smart SAN for HP 3PAR StoreServ—with all the capabilities I’ve talked about here—can reduce the number of steps required to provision a SAN by 80 percent.** What are you waiting for? It’s time to get smart!

 

 

 

* Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rube_Goldberg_machine

** Compared to doing SAN zoning without Smart SAN.

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