"Designing Storage Area Networks"--the book

"Designing Storage Area Networks"--the book

Dave Simpson


In what appears to be the first comprehensive book on SANs, Tom Clark`s Designing Storage Area Networks is a must-read for anyone considering implementing a storage area network (SAN), as well as those involved in producing SAN components.

Clark, who works for Vixel, is a frequent contributor to InfoStor. For a sample of his writing, see "What`s SAN management, and why do you need it?" on pp. 28-34.

Intended for IT managers, storage/server administrators and integrators, networking professionals, consultants and technical staff, Designing Storage Area Networks provides a nice mix of tutorial material for beginners, and more technical content for developers already familiar with SAN basics. Clark doesn`t really make the case for SANs from a business benefits standpoint, but long-term readers of InfoStor are already armed with that information.

Starting with an overview of SAN concepts--and comparisons to LANs, parallel SCSI and NAS--the text delves into a relatively technical discussion of how Fibre Channel works. IT managers could probably skip this chapter, although developers will want to study it closely.

The next section examines the three topologies--point-to-point, arbitrated loop (including a nice section on those pesky LIPs) and switched fabrics--followed by a review of the various types of Fibre Channel products. Given Clark`s company affiliation, it`s not surprising that the parts on hubs and switches are the most detailed. The only section that comes up short is the one on SAN software, which doesn`t discuss the various data sharing packages.

Given the state of SANs today, the chapter on problem isolation will probably become the most dog-eared. The chapter on SAN management makes up in part for the lack of software coverage. And another chapter explains SANs in the context of applications such as full-motion video, prepress, LAN-free and server-less tape backup, clustering, and disaster recovery.

In short, we highly recommend Designing Storage Area Networks for anyone who wants both basic and detailed information about Fibre Channel and SANs. I read a draft manuscript, but by the time you read this, the book should be available from Addison Wesley Longman for $19.95 (www.awl.com/cseng/ or 781-944-3700).

But, until your copy arrives, delve into this month`s issue, which contains plenty of features on Fibre Channel. Start with John Haystead`s Special Report, a series of case studies that explain how and why a variety of end-user organizations have implemented SANs.

Vincent Franceschini`s "Fibre Channel solves storage problems" provides SAN basics and a look at what`s still missing. Michael Eckley`s "Fibre Channel`s multiprotocol advantages" examines the benefits of one of Fibre Channels unique features: support for a variety of protocols. Clark`s article takes a look at SAN management, an area that still needs improvement. And, if you`re thinking of building a SAN for clustering, check out Jeff Wells` "Fault tolerance versus high-availability failover."

This article was originally published on October 01, 1999