Storage UPDATE, May 12, 2003
Storage UPDATE--brought to you by the Windows & .NET Magazine Network http://www.storageadmin.com
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May 12, 2003--In this issue:
1. COMMENTARY - NAS Virtualization
2. NEWS AND VIEWS - SNIA Announces Customer Outreach Program - New Microsoft Systems Architecture Blueprint Launched
3. ANNOUNCEMENTS - Get the eBook That Will Help You Get Certified! - Cast Your Vote in Our Annual Readers' Choice Awards!
4. RESOURCES - Upgrading Dynamic Disks
5. NEW AND IMPROVED - Recover Damaged or Lost Data - Identify and Back Up Crucial Files - Submit Top Product Ideas
6. CONTACT US - See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
* NAS VIRTUALIZATION Over the past several months, I've written about the benefits that Windows Powered Network Attached Storage (WPNAS) confers over general purpose Windows file servers. If all you need is optimized file serving, a WPNAS beats a Windows server in price, performance, and ease of use. But what happens when your storage needs outgrow your WPNAS devices? Although the newest WPNAS devices support terabytes (TBs) of storage, you might eventually outgrow them. Or perhaps you've purchased smaller WPNAS devices that have reached their storage limit. You might even have file servers and WPNAS devices that are maxed out on space today.
NAS storage virtualization is a software-based solution that lets you manage multiple NAS devices and file servers as one storage pool. When one NAS device reaches its limit, the NAS storage virtualization software automatically starts allocating storage from that device to another NAS device or file server in the same pool. Several vendors offer NAS storage virtualization solutions. Let's look at the capabilities of a few of these solutions.
1Vision Software ( http://www.1vision.com ) offers the vSERV and vNAS storage virtualization solutions, which let you combine Windows-based file servers or WPNAS devices into one storage pool or aggregation group. Once a WPNAS device is part of an aggregation group, you can set a storage threshold (i.e., high water mark) rule. For example, a threshold rule might specify that when a device reaches 75 percent of its storage capacity, data that would have been stored on that device will instead be stored on another device in the aggregation group. This threshold rule lets you balance storage resources across storage devices, Windows servers, or WPNAS devices in the aggregation group.
1Vision's vNAS solution incorporates an advanced file system that sits on top of NTFS. The file system handles the virtualization of NAS and file servers, and NTFS handles all other file system functions. You must load the vNAS or vSERV software on each WPNAS or Windows file server in the aggregation pool, but you don't need to make changes at the client level. The clients see only NTFS or whatever file system that the file server or WPNAS device supports. Pricing of vNAS or vSERV is $699 per NAS or server.
Other utilities, such as Microsoft Dfs or VERITAS Volume Manager, provide a level of storage virtualization, but they don't enable the automatic allocation of storage based on storage thresholds--a key factor in the practical use of storage virtualization. In the event that you run low on NAS resources, you don't want your NAS devices to shut down or require a lot of manual intervention. Having the ability to use a pool of NAS storage is convenient, easier to manage than separate storage islands, and provides a true "hands off" environment.
Spinnaker Networks ( http://www.spinnakernet.com ) also make NAS devices that support virtualization. Spinnaker bundles proprietary software with its hardware to achieve such functionality. A downside of this configuration is that you can't simply add Spinnaker software to a WPNAS device to achieve NAS virtualization.
Several other products provide virtualization of Storage Area Network (SAN) devices, and I'll detail them in a future commentary. The SAN virtualization products enable the aggregation of disparate SAN devices into one large storage pool. Pricing for these devices typically starts at more than $100,000.
Claude Lorenson, Microsoft Enterprise Storage Division's product manager, says, "The need for NAS virtualization features for the mainstream audience for NAS devices will grow as the need for more data maxes out smaller NAS devices. If you've filled up your 500GB captive NAS device and you need more NAS space, your only choice is to buy another NAS device. NAS virtualization, then, becomes very useful."
A NAS virtualization is to use a SAN to provide a virtualized growth path. In this scenario, you use a NAS head or gateway as a front end to a SAN device. The SAN device provides the entire storage growth path in this SAN/NAS combination environment. To learn more about WPNAS heads integrating with existing SANs, read the article at the following link: http://www.storageadmin.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=37894
NAS virtualization is an additional tool now available to users of WPNAS and Windows Server-based file servers. The technology provides administrators who want one point of administration for WPNAS devices an easy way to create storage pools and the ability to avoid maxing out storage.
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* SNIA ANNOUNCES CUSTOMER OUTREACH PROGRAM The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) has set up a new committee and membership category to help encourage and simplify storage vendor and end-user communication. The new effort by the organization will create new programs and activities, including a Customer Focus Committee (CFC) and a Customer Company membership category designed for storage customers. Traditionally, organization membership was limited to vendors in the storage industry. The new customer outreach program is intended to help increase the presence and voice of customers within the industry. Participating customers will be able to take part in SNIA member activities will have increased access to SNIA resources.
The Customer Focus Committee, which was created by the SNIA board of directors, will oversee the new Customer Company membership category, which lets members participate in all CFC programs, allows direct communication with storage networking industry leaders, grants access to members' Web sites, and offers invitations to and discounts on special SNIA events. The CFC will also oversee the Customer Executive Council (CEC), a forum in which customers can advise the SNIA board of directors about strategies to address the needs of storage networking customers. Finally, the CFC will oversee the Customer Advisory Council (CAC), from which members can provide the SNIA with real-world assessments of storage networking problems and technical requirements for storage networking solutions. The new membership category is open to any company that is currently a consumer of storage technology. SNIA will begin accepting membership applications on June 1. http://www.snia.org
* NEW MICROSOFT SYSTEMS ARCHITECTURE BLUEPRINT LAUNCHED Last week, a group of industry partners announced the release of the first partner-led Microsoft Systems Architecture (MSA) blueprint for the Enterprise Data Center (EDC). The partners include Brocade, CommVault Systems, Dell, EMC, Emulex, KVS, NetIQ, and Nortel Networks. The blueprint, called the EDC Blueprint for Replication and Recovery, is a pretested solution that provides guidance for delivering scalable and high availability solutions in a Microsoft Windows Server environment. The blueprint provides documented guidance for planning, building, and managing an enterprise data center configuration with data replication and recovery. The new guide extends the work that began last year with the release of the Microsoft Systems Architecture Blueprint for Internet Data Centers.
The MSA EDC Blueprint for Replication and Recovery incorporates Windows Server System technology, including Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and Microsoft Exchange 2000. The blueprint includes information about hardware, software, and enterprise IT services such as authentication, security, file and print, and Web-access network connectivity. According to the industry partners who released the blueprint, the benefits of following the blueprint include consolidation, security, lowered implementation risk, improved service levels through data replication, backup and recovery, and data archiving. http://www.emc.com/msa
* GET THE EBOOK THAT WILL HELP YOU GET CERTIFIED! The "Insider's Guide to IT Certification," from the Windows & .NET Magazine Network, has one goal: to help you save time and money in your quest for certification. Find out how to choose the best study guides, save hundreds of dollars, and be successful as an IT professional. The amount of time you spend reading this book will be more than made up by the time you save preparing for your certification exams. Order your copy today! http://winnet.bookaisle.com/ebookcover.asp?ebookid=13475
* CAST YOUR VOTE IN OUR ANNUAL READERS' CHOICE AWARDS! Which companies and products are the best on the market? Tell us by nominating your favorites in the annual Windows & .NET Magazine Readers' Choice Awards survey. Click here! http://www.winnetmag.com/readerschoice
* UPGRADING DYNAMIC DISKS Forum member Andyje has run out of disk space on a system array and needs to upgrade disk capacity while retaining mirroring functionality. Downtime is a key concern. To lend a helping hand, join the discussion at the following URL: http://www.winnetmag.com/forums/rd.cfm?cid=46&tid=58459
* RECOVER DAMAGED OR LOST DATA Jufsoft released BadCopy Pro 3.65, a data-recovery application that lets you recover damaged or lost data from floppy disks, CD-ROMs, and memory cards. The software features a wizard interface to help you scan, recover, preview, and save your data. BadCopy Pro 3.65 runs on Windows XP/2000/NT/Me/98 and requires 2MB of disk space. Pricing is $39.50 for a single-user license. Contact Jufsoft at email@example.com. http://www.jufsoft.com
* IDENTIFY AND BACK UP CRUCIAL FILES AlmerSoft released AlmerBackup 3.0, backup software that lets you create regular backups of your crucial data. You identify your most crucial files and specify on the built-in schedule how often you want to perform backups. The software also performs simple file copies and moves, deletes out-of-date files from the destination directory, and removes copied files from the source directory. AlmerBackup can back up to any network resource. The software runs on Windows XP/2000/NT/Me/9x systems and costs $29. Contact AlmerSoft at firstname.lastname@example.org. http://www.almersoft.com
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