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Fibre-Channel SAN – Meeting the Challenge of Increasing Data Storage Requirements

We rely on applications more and more to make our day-to-day lives quicker, easier and more efficient. However, while this is good for us, it creates massive challenges for the storage capacity of networks.

Data Storage Challenges
Consider your favorite e-commerce website. It will have enormous databases supporting electronic cataloging and ordering, and needs to be able to cope with hundreds of customers all trying to access the same information and order at the same time. This is compounded once businesses enter the international arena, and corporate information has to be maintained not only across states, but across countries as well.

And the next time you watch a video, or listen to a radio station or podcast on streaming audio, think of how much storage space those websites are consuming.

These are just two examples of how the applications we take for granted every day are placing the existing storage and networking architectures under immense pressure.

The Rise of Fibre-Channel SAN
In the past, applications like those just described were supported by file servers with either large internal disks or disk farms directly attached to the server. This was limiting, in that the server could only access data on devices directly attached to it.

The introduction of storage area networks (SANs) helped the situation immensely, as they sit between the servers and the storage devices, allowing multiple servers to access any storage device.

Today, fibre channel (FC) is the predominant technology for implementing SANs, replacing the Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) as the transmission interface between servers and clustered storage devices. The benefits of FC over SCSI are that it is up to three times faster and a lot more flexible.

In addition, if optical fiber is used as the physical medium, devices on a Fibre-Channel SAN can be up to six miles (about 10 kilometers) apart. This supports the capability of off-site data storage for disaster recovery, as well as high speed local area networking between buildings on a campus or in the same general area.

For shorter distances, it is not necessary to use optical fiber, as FC also works using coaxial cable or even ordinary telephone twisted pair.

Mass Mountain’s Alpine SAN is a great addition to existing FC SANs because it is easy to configure and much cheaper than higher priced competitor’s primary storage boxes. Find out more at www.massmountain.com.

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