Servers and data storage are a mundane topic for most executives; especially when their primary focus should be on running a profitable business. Storage Area Networks (SAN) have declined rapidly in price and are no longer a technology for the largest corporations. Today’s small and medium businesses (SMB) can leverage this technology to create a more flexible computing environment and reduce server costs.
If you are still buying servers with a single purpose, such as — SQL, Exchange, and SharePoint — you are wasting money on hard drives and RAID arrays that can easily double or triple your server costs. In comparison, an SMB SAN allows you to logically group the hard drives for all your servers into one or two devices that can be connected to all of your servers — providing higher disk performance, higher availability, and faster recovery time in the event of a catastrophic server failure.
By separating the storage from the traditional server (CPU, memory, and network adapters) you increase storage efficiency by only allocating the amount of storage currently required for the server and gain the ability to add storage on the fly. For instance, if your SQL server demands more disk space – click to allocate it. Or, if your Exchange server has recently archived much of your old email to another system – reduce the amount of disk available to Exchange and increase its performance.
Many departments such as engineering, can go through periods of large storage growth when a new project or New Year approaches. A SAN allows you to add additional drives on the fly and then allocate them to any server that requires it. No more surprise IT requests to get a larger server because the current server is maxed out.
Server failure with local RAID arrays are a thing of the past. When a SAN connected server fails, simply attach the storage on the SAN to a new or backup server and bring your business back online quickly. No more waiting for tape libraries, and cloud based services to restore all the data to a new server, which can spell two to three days of down time.
What does it cost? That depends on your storage requirements and the number of servers you would like to connect. A small SAN with two to three servers will start at about $10K. Your mileage will vary depending on the size and number of the hard drives you will insert into the SAN. Since all SANs are scalable, you can start with as little as six hard drives and grow to over 200 as your demands increase. Why not start today? Reduce your server costs, increase your flexibility, and get back to focusing on what is really import and grow YOUR business.
Paul R. Cook
Vice President, Network Services
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