Smooth Sailing With SAN

When a business is just starting and has sufficient financial backing, VARs can build entire SAN solutions from the ground up. Forget about compatibility issues; this end user cruises with storage area networks.

A dot com strategy like, Inc. (Redwood Shores, CA) needs data storage and quick access. is the first online barter exchange where member businesses buy goods and services with "trade dollars," instead of cash. The benefits? Members can find new customers without spending time and money on marketing, and they can buy for their businesses without cutting into their cash flow. demands round-the-clock uptime, high performance, and, predictably, the ability to add storage on an almost daily basis. SANs (storage area networks) work well in this type of situation. Building an entire SAN solution was the challenge presented to nStor Technologies, (San Diego) when it began discussions with

Tom Fabrizio, nStor's western regional sales manager, explained. " needed a system that couldn't go down, even for five seconds. Its customers need 24/7 access to the site. That means total uptime, full fault tolerance. And it had to be cookie-cuttered and duplicated. will open up other sites in the United States to keep the system fast."

Helping The Customer Become Comfortable With SAN
nStor is authorized to sell EMC/Clariion solutions in addition to their storage products. nStor's pre-sales systems engineering studied the situation and chose to offer a solution centered on Clariion's 5700 fully redundant Fibre Channel storage arrays.

At first, the customer was cautious about implementing SAN technology. As a result, nStor initially installed the Clariion systems and attached them to the Sun servers via Fibre Channel hubs. This allowed to implement a smaller-scale prototypical system. Once the customer was comfortable with the technology and the implementation, nStor upgraded it to a fully switched Fibre Channel architecture. This architecture included a total of 2 TB (terabytes) of Fibre storage brought together with Vixel Fibre Channel switches. The final product included a total of three SANs. One was for the development team and two more were for each of's colocation facilities.

A colocation (sometimes spelled "co-location" or "collocation") is the provision of space for a customer's telecommunications equipment on the service provider's premises. For example, a Web site owner could place the site's own computer server on the premises of the ISP (internet service provider). Or an ISP could place its network router on the premises of the company offering switching services with other ISPs.

"The main system is actually running at a colocation," explained Fabrizio. "Colocations provide secure sites for companies that need to have multiple sites around the country." Some colocation companies Fabrizio mentioned are Pilot Network Services, Inc. (Alameda, CA) and Globix Corp. (New York).

" decided to deploy SAN technology in phases," said Bill Eddins, manager of storage architects for nStor. "Because of that, the amount of integration time was greater than if it had done everything in one shot. I believe nStor provided about 3½ weeks of SAN integration time. nStor worked hand-in-hand with's systems administrator teams every step of the way.

"We were able to get's employees comfortable with the technology," said Eddins. They were so comfortable that they didn't need any assistance moving one of the SANs from their corporate location to their permanent colocation facility."

As for future upgrades, Fabrizio said will grow on a quarterly basis. As it grows, its storage requirements will grow. It will then need to buy multiple systems for new colocations to handle all the Internet flow. "I have one of my best sales people on it. He maintains them on a day-to-day basis."

Ann DeDad