Download this free eBook and learn new ways to regain control over the growing amount of file data in your enterprise. See how you can optimize file management projects without disrupting users…or your weekends. And learn how File Area Networks (FANs) can help you centralize file consolidation, migration, replication, and failover. Key topics include how to configure a virtualized, location-independent view of your file data—as well as the basics of creating a reliable FAN that maximizes your IT resources while improving file access.

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The FAN concept requires an increasingly sophisticated suite of file management technologies, including file-level descriptions and classification to attach policies to file data. To address this need, the industry is developing a wide range of products and services to help streamline the management of file-based data as part of an enterprise FAN. This book will focus on discussing the FAN products offered by Brocade.

The "network" portion of a FAN is the pre-existing corporate IP network. In addition, a FAN will make use of one or more upper layer network filesystem protocols such as the Network Filesystem (NFS) and the Common Internet Filesystem (CIFS). The FAN is, however, distinguished from the underlying network which transports it: "FAN" is a logical way to describe the hardware and software technologies used to organize, route, switch, and provide consistent access to massive amounts of file data. This is similar to other layered network models. For example, storage networking traffic may traverse Fibre Channel fabrics, DWDM MANs, and IP WANs, yet the SAN is still the SAN even when it sits on top of something else.

The goal of a FAN is to provide a more flexible and intelligent set of methods and tools to move and manage file data in the most cost-effective and controlled manner. To accomplish this, FANs provide several key functions:

  • Enterprise-wide control of file information, including the management of file attributes
  • The ability to establish file visibility and access rights regardless of physical device or location
  • Non-disruptive, transparent movement of file data across platforms and/or geographical boundaries
  • The consolidation of redundant file resources and management tasks

The key to this architecture is that the FAN provides "coalescence" between files stored in different locations and the file consumers (clients). In current datacenters, separate storage devices are truly separate, which is why administrators typically spend so much time mapping drive letters and handling complex change control processes during migrations. The "coalescence" principal means that a FAN will group separate components into one united file space. There are a number of objectives administrators have which are facilitated by this, such as:

  • Make file location and movement transparent
  • Centralize file storage and management for efficiency
  • Reduce the cost of remote data backup
  • Intelligently migrate files based on policies
  • Consolidate branch office IT infrastructure
  • Comply with regulations and corporate objectives

Many products and services operate in the FAN to allow these objectives to be met, such as a namespace unifier, file routing engine(s), meta data management, and remote office performance optimizers. Most of this book is dedicated to discussing what those products and services are, how they work, and how best to deploy them.