Many organisations in a range of industries and occupations operate branches, offices and hubs nationally and internationally all requiring access to the main IT system. Organisations such as hotels, supermarkets, manufacturing plants, regional offices and more fit into this category.
Previously, the only option was having an IT infrastructure at each individual location with the consequence that skilled personnel might be required onsite to look after it.
If the equipment were to go down or suffer some other kind of problem, then that location’s business activities could be severely affected while the IT isn’t working.
It’s usually too costly and complicated to centrally host the applications used by the various branches in their respective locations. There may be limited network connectivity, limited space, limited IT budgets, basic equipment on site, a sluggish performance sometimes if using cloud-based solutions, or a small disk capacity requirement.
Virtualisation rides to the rescue in the form of a high availability SAN (shared access network) storage solution. Virtual storage specialists such as StorMagic have partnered with hypervisor and hardware vendors such as VMware to enable a hyper-converged solution for multiple locations that takes care of providing virtual computing and storage requirements.
The beauty of this type of configuration is ease of use – the SAN can provide high capacity storage controlled from one location without the need for expensive external storage equipment.
Advantages of SAN storage
Costs – can be dramatically reduced as there’s no need for as much expensive hardware storage equipment. Less hardware means less maintenance, so costs are cut here and energy bills in the form of power use will be reduced – not to mention the possible costs involved in dispersing heat from racks of storage equipment.
Simple to operate – the SAN software can be operated from a single, centralised location. Some virtual SAN vendors require you to use their own hardware and software whereas others offer more flexibility as their SANs are hypervisor and hardware independent.
Some SANs take flexibility one step further with software that can be controlled from one console that manages everything including hypervisor software such as the market leading VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V.
A SAN system should be designed to handle power losses: it’ll make sure it shut down properly previously, and if not – due to a power outage for example – will run various diagnostic checks to make sure all is well.
It uses a dual boot image system so if one becomes corrupted (such as from a sudden, unexpected shut down such as loss of power or during a system upgrade) it’ll start from the other.
A major attribute of a SAN virtual storage system is its ease of increasing storage size: thanks to its scalability, there aren’t the same sort of limits as with physical hard drive situations.
There will likely be some, but they shouldn’t be beyond the bounds of most decently specified IT departments and usually appear on the SAN storage company’s website.
Try virtual SAN for size
Some SAN vendors will let you test drive the system for a limited period, and will offer various support packages depending on your requirements.