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What are the basic components of computer back up and storage solutions?

I want to understand basics of storage devices such as tape libraries, Vertual storage, SAN, NAS back up consolidation in very simple language, may be supported with diagrams

Tape Library
In computer storage, a tape library (sometimes called a tape silo or tape jukebox) is a storage device which contains one or more tape drives, a number of slots to hold tape cartridges, a barcode reader to identify tape cartridges and an automated method / robot for loading tapes. These devices can store immense amounts of data.

Smaller tape libraries with only one drive and robot are known as autoloaders.

List of Tape library manufacturers:

* ADIC (acquired by Quantum in 2006)
* IBM: TS3310, 3582, 3583, 3584, 3494
* Overland Storage
* Quantum Corp.
* Spectra Logic Corporation
* StorageTek (Acquired by Sun in 2005)
* Sun StorageTek: L25, L100, L180, L500, L700, Sun StorEdge L8500.
* Tandberg Data: StorageLibrary T40 (acquired Exabyte)

Category: Computer storage devices

A VSAN (Virtual Storage Area Network) mainly allocates ports across different physical fabrics to create a virtual fabric. It acts as a self-contained fabric despite sharing hardware resources on switch(es). Ports within a switch can be partitioned into multiple VSANs. Vice versa, multiple switches can join available ports to form a single VSAN.

* Unlike a typical fabric bound by its port limitation, a VSAN can be dynamically expanded or reconfigured to incorporate more or less ports.

* A VSAN resembles VLAN (Virtual LAN) in Ethernet terminology. The design was modeled after VLAN.

* A VSAN can offer different protocols such as FC, FCIP, FICON, iSCSI. Each VSAN is a separate entity using distinctive security policies, zones, events, memberships, and name services. Traffic is also separate.

* In October 2004, the T11 Technical Committee approved
Cisco Virtual SAN technology into the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) as the standard.
Virtual storage can refer to:

* virtual memory; IBM uses "virtual storage" rather than "virtual memory"
* The storage seen by clients when storage virtualization is used

The NAS is meant to act as a gateway to guard access to a protected resource. This can be anything from a telephone network, to printers, to the Internet.

The client connects to the NAS. The NAS then connects to another resource asking whether the client's supplied credentials are valid. Based on that answer the NAS then allows or disallows access to the protected resource.

The NAS contains no information about what clients can connect or what credentials are valid. All the NAS does is send the credentials the client supplied to a resource which does know how to process the credentials.

[edit] Examples

The above translates into different implementations for different uses. Here are some examples.

* The most common use would be for access to the Internet. A user opens their browser. The NAS detects that the user is not currently authorized to have access to the Internet, so the NAS prompts the user for their username and password. The user supplies them and sends them back to the NAS. The NAS then uses RADIUS to connect to an AAA server (in this case, it is running FreeRADIUS) and passes off the username and password to the FreeRADIUS server. The FreeRADIUS server searches through its resources and finds that the credentials are valid and notifies the NAS they are valid. The NAS then grants the user access to the internet.

* Another use of a NAS would be in VoIP. However, instead of using a username and password, many times a phone number or IP Address are used. If the phone number is a valid customer then the call can be completed. Other uses might be if the phone number has long distance access or is a telephone card and has minutes left.

[edit] Associated Protocols

Although not required, NAS are almost exclusively used with AAA servers. Of the AAA protocols available, RADIUS tends to be the most widely used. DIAMETER Base protocol extends RADIUS services by providing error handling and inter-domain communications. This protocol is used in networks like IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS).

, a storage area network (SAN) is a network (referred to as a fabric) designed to attach computer storage devices such as disk array controllers and tape libraries to servers. As of 2007, SANs are most commonly found in enterprise storage.

A SAN allows a machine to connect to remote targets such as disks and tape drives on a network for block level I/O. From the point of view of the class drivers and application software, the devices appear as locally attached devices.

There are two variations of SANs:

1. A network whose essential purpose is the transfer of data between computer systems and storage elements. A SAN consists of a communication infrastructure, which provides physical connections, and a management layer, which organizes the connections, storage elements, and computer systems so that data transfer is secure and robust. The term SAN is usually (but not necessarily) identified with block I/O services rather than file access services.
2. A storage system consisting of storage elements, storage devices, computer systems, and/or appliances, plus all control software, communicating over an ethernet network.

Storage networks are distinguished from other forms of network storage by the low-level access method that they use. Data traffic on the SAN Fabric is very similar to those used for internal disk drives, like ATA and SCSI.

In a storage network, a server issues a request for specific blocks, or data segments, from specific disk drives. This method is known as block storage. The device acts in a similar fashion to an internal drive, accessing the specified block, and sending the response across the network.

In more traditional file storage access methods, like SMB/CIFS or NFS, a server issues a request for an abstract file as a component of a larger file system, managed by an intermediary computer. The intermediary then determines the physical location of the abstract resource, accesses it on one of its internal drives, and sends the complete file across the network.

Most storage networks use the SCSI protocol for communication between servers and disk drive devices, though they do not use its low-level physical interface. Typical SAN physical interfaces include 1Gbit Fibre Channel, 2Gbit Fibre Channel, 4Gbit Fibre Channel, and (in limited cases) 1Gbit iSCSI. The SCSI protocol information will be carried over the lower level protocol via a mapping layer. For example, most SANs in production today use some form of SCSI over Fibre Channel system, as defined by the FCP mapping standard. iSCSI is a similar mapping method designed to carry SCSI information over IP.
Contents
[hide]

* 1 Benefits
* 2 Disk controllers
* 3 SAN types
o 3.1 Types of SAN
* 4 Compatibility
* 5 SANs at work
* 6 SANs in a Small Office / Home Office (SOHO)
* 7 Storage virtualization and SANs
* 8 SAN Best Practices and Lessons Learned
* 9 SAN Software Articles and White Papers
* 10 See also
* 11 External links

[edit] Benefits

Sharing storage usually simplifies storage administration and adds flexibility since cables and storage devices do not have to be physically moved to move storage from one server to another. Note, though, that with the exception of SAN file systems and clustered computing, SAN storage is still a one-to-one relationship. That is, each device, or Logical Unit Number (LUN) on the SAN is "owned" by a single computer (or initiator). In contrast, Network Attached Storage (NAS) allows many computers to access the same set of files over a network. The contrast between the SAN and NAS has been blurred with the creation of a NAS head.

SANs tend to increase storage capacity utilization, since multiple servers can share the same growth reserve.

Other benefits include the ability to allow servers to boot from the SAN itself. This allows for a quick and easy replacement of faulty servers since the SAN can be reconfigured so that a replacement server can use the LUN of the faulty server. This process can take as little as half an hour and is a relatively new idea being pioneered in newer data centers. There are a number of emerging products designed to facilitate and speed up this process still further. For example, Brocade Communication Systems offers an Application Resource Manager product which automatically provisions servers to boot off a SAN, with typical-case load times measured in minutes. While this area of technology is still new, many view it as being the future of the enterprise datacenter.

SANs also tend to enable more effective disaster recovery processes. A SAN attached storage array can replicate data belonging to many servers to a secondary storage array. This secondary array can be local or, more typically, remote. The goal of disaster recovery is to place copies of data outside the radius of effect of an anticipated threat, and so the long-distance transport capabilities of SAN protocols such as Fibre Channel and FCIP are required to support these solutions. (The physical layer options for the traditional direct-attached SCSI model could only support a few meters of distance: not nearly enough to ensure business continuance in a disaster.) Demand for this SAN application has increased dramatically after the September 11th attacks in the United States, and increased regulatory requirements associated with Sarbanes-Oxley and similar legislation.

Newer SANs allow duplication functionality such as "cloning", "Business Continuance Volumes (BCV)" and "snapshotting," which allows for real-time duplication of LUN, for the purposes of backup, disaster recovery, or system duplication. With higher-end database systems, this can occur without downtime, and is geographically independent, primarily being limited by available bandwidth and storage. Cloning and BCV's create a complete replica of the LUN in the background (consuming I/O resources in the process), while snapshotting stores only the original states of any blocks that get changed after the "snapshot" (also known as the delta blocks) from the original LUN, and does not significantly slow the system. In time, however, snapshots can grow to be as large as the original system, and are normally only recommended for temporary storage. The two types of duplication are otherwise identical, and a cloned or snapshotted LUN can be mounted on another system for execution, or backup to tape or other device, or for replication to a distant point.

[edit] Disk controllers

The driving force for the SAN market in the enterprise space is rapid growth of highly transactional data that require high speed block level access to the hard drives (such as data from email servers, databases, and high usage file servers). Historically, enterprises would have "islands" of high performance SCSI storage RAIDs that were locally attached to each application server. These "islands" would be backed up over the network, and when the application data exceeded the maximum amount of data storable by the individual server, the end user would often have to upgrade their server to keep up.

The disk controllers used in enterprise SAN environments are designed to provide applications with block level access to high speed, reliable "virtual hard drives" (or LUNs). In addition, modern SANs allow enterprises to intermix FC SATA drives with their FC SCSI drives. SATA drives have lower performance, a higher failure rate, higher capacity, and lower prices than SCSI. This allows enterprises to have multiple tiers of data that will migrate over time to different types of media. For example: many enterprises relegate files that are rarely accessed to FC SATA while keeping their frequently used data in FC SCSI.

Another feature of most enterprise disk controllers is a I/O cache. This feature allows higher overall performance for writing to the controller, and in some cases (like for contiguous file access where read ahead is enabled) reading from the controller.

[edit] SAN types

SANs require an infrastructure specially designed to handle storage communications called a fabric. Thus, they tend to provide faster and more reliable access than higher level protocols such as NAS. A fabric is similar in concept to a segment in a local area network.

The industry standard SAN technology is Fibre Channel networking with the SCSI command set. A typical Fibre Channel SAN fabric is made up of a number of Fibre Channel switches. Today, all major SAN equipment vendors also offer some form of Fibre Channel routing solution, and these bring substantial scalability benefits to the SAN architecture by allowing data to cross between different fabrics without merging them. These offerings use proprietary protocol elements, and the top-level architectures being promoted are radically different. When extending Fibre Channel over long distances for disaster recovery solutions, it can be mapped over other protocols. For example, products exist to map Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP) and over SONET/SDH. It can also be extended natively using signal repeaters, high-power laser media, or multiplexers such as DWDMs.

Cisco has recently turned their attention toward fabric switching. The network hardware giant has introduced some comparable and even superior fabric switching alternatives. Cisco recently released a 10 Gb/s fiber channel switch.

[edit] Types of SAN

A centralized storage area network contains many heterogeneous servers connected to one single storage space. The single storage space can have heterogeneous storage entities or disk drives. Centralized storage area networks are useful for simplifying the storage architecture in large organizations. The storage space can be treated as a black box so that administration of storage is easy. Centralized storage area networks are compatible with many heterogeneous server environments including Linux, Windows based servers.

A distributed storage area network contains many geographically-dispersed disk drive networks. All the networks are treated as one unit and are connected by the iSCSI storage area network protocol. Distributed storage area networks is a sub-network of shared storage devices that allows for all information stored to be shared among all of the servers on the network. Distributed storage area networks are most popular in large organizations with geographically dispersed storage pools, that can be connected and communicate through iSCSI.

[edit] Compatibility

One of the early problems with Fibre Channel SANs was that the switches and other hardware from different manufacturers were not entirely compatible. Although the basic storage protocols (such as FCP) were always quite standard, some of the higher-level functions did not interoperate well. Similarly, many host operating systems would react badly to other Operating Systems sharing the same fabric. Many systems were pushed to the market before standards were finalized and vendors innovated around the standards.

The combined efforts of the members of the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) improved the situation during 2002 and 2003. Today most vendor devices, from HBAs to switches and arrays, interoperate nicely, though there are still many high-level functions that do not work between different manufacturers' hardware.

[edit] SANs at work

SANs are primarily used in large scale, high performance enterprise storage operations. It would be unusual to find a Fibre Channel disk drive connected directly to a SAN. Instead, SANs are normally networks of large disk arrays. SAN equipment is relatively expensive, therefore, Fibre Channel host bus adapters are rare in desktop computers. The iSCSI SAN technology is expected to eventually produce cheap SANs, but it is unlikely that this technology will be used outside the enterprise data center environment. Desktop clients are expected to continue using NAS protocols such as CIFS and NFS. The exception to this may be remote replication sites. Remote replication enables the data center environment to exist in multiple locations for disaster recovery and business continuity purposes. The performance issues inherent in iSCSI are likely to limit its deployment to lower-tier applications, with Fibre Channel remaining incumbent for high performance systems.

[edit] SANs in a Small Office / Home Office (SOHO)

With the increasing rise of digital media in all phases of life and its effect on storage needs, it's natural that SANs have begun to enter into the SOHO market. Historically, this market was dominated by NAS systems, but SOHO is poised to become a major market for SAN infrastructure as SOHO performance requirements rise.

Systems such as film scanners and video editing applications require performance that cannot be provided by traditional file servers. For example, motion picture film at 2048x1536 requires more than 300MBytes/s for each real-time stream, and several of these streams can be required simultaneously. As a result, several Gigabits per second can be required, which creates a problem for standard NAS technologies. In addition, these systems need to work with the same files collaboratively, so they cannot be distributed through different file servers or DAS connections.

Instead of having many computers connected to the network, with each one requiring a low bandwidth and only the server being stressed under heavy traffic, the SOHO "real-time" area only needs to integrate a few systems, but all of them require high bandwidth to access to the same files. These problems are addressed very well by 4Gbit Fibre Channel SAN infrastructures, where the aggregated bandwidth for sequential I/O operations is extremely high.

[edit] Storage virtualization and SANs

* Storage virtualization refers to the process of completely abstracting logical storage from physical storage. The physical storage resources are aggregated into storage pools, from which the logical storage is created. With storage virtualization, multiple independent storage devices, that may be scattered over a network, appear to be a single monolithic storage device, which can be managed centrally. Storage Virtualization is commonly used in SANs. Virtualization of storage helps achieve location independence by abstracting the physical location of the data. The Virtualization system presents to the user a logical space for data storage and itself handles the process of mapping it to the actual physical location.

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