Making the storage connection
By Russ Holt (October 2002)
When it comes to enterprise data storage, it is in vogue to be standard. Companies are now integrating their storage onto networks to consolidate equipment, achieve greater capacity and utilization, provide higher data availability, simplify management, and allow access by multiple applications and users. At Dell, we support this growing trend with standards-based solutions spanning both storage area networks (SANs) and network attached storage (NAS).
SAN: The fruit of Fibre Channel
A SAN is a high-speed network that interconnects different kinds of block storage devices with servers on behalf of a large population of users. Companies can use SANs in a variety of applications, such as disk mirroring, backup and restore, data migration between storage devices, and consolidation for data sharing among different servers on a network. A SAN can use various transmission media to move data. To date, the interface of choice has been Fibre Channel.
Fibre Channel is popular because it is secure, reliable, scalable, and fast. Fibre Channel optical cabling-typically 500 meters per link-enables SAN configurations with many storage devices in a storage pool. Fibre Channel copper cabling-typically 10 meters per link-enables JBOD expansion under DellTM |EMC® storage controllers with as many as 240 discs on the new Dell|EMC CX600.
Through a strategic alliance with EMC announced in October 2001, Dell provides a very robust, enterprise-class SAN and Fibre Channel infrastructure that leverages Dell|EMC FC4500, FC4700, and CX600 storage arrays.
NAS: Attached at the IP
Considered an optimized storage device for file sharing, NAS is essentially a hard disk array with its own IP address on an Ethernet-based network. By removing storage access and management from a server, data can be stored and retrieved faster since these operations do not compete for the same processor. Since it runs over standard Ethernet, companies can migrate from internal storage systems to NAS with minimal investment.
The Dell PowerVaultTM 700N series offers a cost-effective and competitive NAS platform based on a standard Intel® architecture server and a Microsoft® Server appliance-based operating system. Additionally, we provide enterprise-level Dell|EMC NAS systems.
Dell and EMC: Bringing NAS and SAN together
At Dell, the ultimate goal is to standardize and simplify storage environments, making it easier for customers to implement architectures, boost performance, and protect business-critical data. Standardizing on common hardware and software helps enterprises lower management costs and total cost of ownership. Through Dell engineering and the partnership with EMC, Dell is focusing its product development efforts to bring this benefit to customers.
Dell now enables businesses to consolidate their NAS and other server storage into a SAN, without the need for special bridging devices. Multiple Dell NAS systems, like the PowerVault 700N series, can connect to a single Dell|EMC Fibre Channel array for improved scalability, utilization, performance, and disaster recovery.
Professional services: Knowledge on demand
The Dell|EMC alliance also brings together two proven industry leaders in professional services and support. Our services organizations are ready to help customers integrate Dell|EMC storage systems into their existing Dell environments. We understand the migration issues that customers will have, and we have the resources to address them.
Previously, companies looking to bring storage onto the network had to make a difficult decision between NAS or SAN. Today, thanks to the Dell|EMC alliance, customers can protect their storage investment and simply integrate standard technologies from Dell as their requirements grow.
About the author: Russ Holt is a vice president and co-general manager of the Dell Enterprise Systems Group. He holds joint responsibility for the worldwide development and marketing of Dell enterprise server, storage, and software products.