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hey guys, i'm looking into setting up a SAN for our company....i've never set one up before so i really dont know what needs to be done. if someone has any info on things like pricing, equipment, etc. i would really appreciate it.

my project is to either setup a SAN or have a programmer (from our DMS company) create software that allows us to archive documents to a cd. i think the programmer and services would cost roughly a couple thousand (maybe less). how much would a cheap SAN cost and would it be worth it or just have the programmer do his thing?

any advice would be appreciated! thanks.

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Last Post by jime0726
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My two cents as a consultant: don't go the consultant route.

Stick to open standards and common hardware.

I would expect to see as many different reccomendations as their are users on daniweb, most people will have vailid arguements for ignoring the person before, and so I will begin the chain:

-Always have a HD image for each server
-Always backup data daily
-Don't discount 40 years of backup technology when some yahoo in accounting (why are they always in accounting?) suggests backing up a little file server to a external usb cd burner. Use magnetic tape and a GOOD program for backups.

Good luck!

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ok...i can definitely take that advice. i do want to explain a little bit of what we've been doing previously though and why:

our company produces thousands upon thousands of documents a yr and 3+ yrs ago, we had all those docs stored on a network share (and hard copy files) and once a case was closed, the hard copy part of the case would be scanned into a program and tagged up with the electronic part of the case (in the network share). from there, they would be burned to cd to take them fully out of our system.

we looked into a full DMS system to take over our network share and to be A LOT more organized with our documents. we purchased an incredible program from a very respectible company that works with the legal industry. once we purchased it, we had no way of archiving docs out to free up room (because once a case is closed, no need to go back to it). so my former manager was telling me to have that company's consultant create us a program for archiving. now my new manager wants me to look into a SAN to save $$. i would think having a consultant create us a program would be a lot less expensive. my managers deal though is he doesnt want that program to be sold to other firms when it was our idea. (which i think may have happened once before with something we had them create for us)....

with that in mind, do you still think i should go the route of a SAN?

thanks for your help!

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It sounds like you are looking for some serious mass ARCHIVING storage instead of a SAN.

A Storage Area Network is a full blown LAN-like network of devices, be it tape drives, CD-RW, DVD-+RW, disk arrays, etc. All the fun stuff you always wanted at home in your basement but could never efford. Think of SAN as a more developed SCSI system. (which is actually not that far from truth since most of them use just that, SCSI to communicate.)

I do NOT think you need SAN. What I think you are looking for DAS or NAS. DAS or Direct Attached Storage is, well your hard drive on a server. NAS or Network Attached Storage is a special hard drive(s) or storage device that appears as an other drive or "server" in the list of network devices.

NAS came about when clustering and such became fashionable. It was a pain to dedicate a full server just so you can hammer away on those SCSI drivers. So someone figured, heck I'll just make a tiny PC with a dedicated OS, stick it on top of an array of SCSI drives with a NIC stuck in it and voila! You have a NAS.

So you are looking for a NAS. You could create your own if you think about it. Get a blade server, or pizza box as I call them. Get a quad or dual port SCSI card on it. Shlep a bunch of SCSI drives, and create a logical drive out of them, give it a name... and you have a 1000G NAS. You could get fancy in make it RAID or other stuff, but, who cares right?

An other solution would be, since you are not "opening these docs" is get SCSI CD-RWs and create a SCSI array with them. ZIP all docs onto the CDs and move them off with time. With a quad SCSI card you could have 26 CDs on line at a time, or about 15GB of compressed data. Not bad for a home brew solution.

Of course you could just call an outside vendor and they will put the same stuff probably for the same price in your network. But where is the fun in that?!

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the program that we use currently to scan closed cases has been out of business for a couple yrs. its on a 16-bit program that will only run on win98 and prior. from that program, our scanning dept was able to create file cabinets, label them with the file #, and i dont know the process that was used to get it into the burning program.

the cd's that were created were formatted to be able to open with this program, in case someone needed to get information from a closed case. so in fact, the chances of someone needing those docs are not often but does happen.

and we now use a new program, the DMS, and new high speed documents scanners and are looking to get rid of the old program and scanners.

those suggestions were also thrown at me several months ago about building some type of server with scsi drives for external storage. after i threw that by my former manager, he said no way, if anyone needing those docs for some reason tries to access them through the network, that will have a huge tax on the network. he mentioned other reasons that i cant think of right now, but he was adamant about having a program created for us. because we wont need the extra storage for a very long time if we have this program for archiving.

i will find out other reasons why he doesn't want some type of SAN right now, but what are the price ranges for creating DAS's, NAS's, and larger?

we also have a small office, less then 100 employees. and so far we doubled our storage system (1 server that stores the DMS) so its now over 400gigs and half used, with a RAID 5.

thanks for the advice!

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those suggestions were also thrown at me several months ago about building some type of server with scsi drives for external storage. after i threw that by my former manager, he said no way, if anyone needing those docs for some reason tries to access them through the network, that will have a huge tax on the network. he mentioned other reasons that i cant think of right now, but he was adamant about having a program created for us. because we wont need the extra storage for a very long time if we have this program for archiving.

Even if you create a SAN, which is a separate "LAN" just for accessing the storage, sooner or later the data WILL get on the Ethernet LAN. So... it will hog some part of it. If you have set your core up properly then this should be no issue. On a switch data travels only between the server and the recipient, and does not (or should not) impact the other users. In "old times" your manager would have been correct. Ethernet hubs could not monitor packet headers, and all packets were sent to all ports. Not today. Any decent core switch will only transmit traffic to the destination port. So that problem is out. (tell your manager to stop reading magazines on airplanes...)

i will find out other reasons why he doesn't want some type of SAN right now, but what are the price ranges for creating DAS's, NAS's, and larger?

I am not sure you grasped the concept of SAN verses DAS/NAS.

SAN is a LAN made for storage devices. A full blown infrastructure, with specialized "switches" and cabling and etc. Once you installed it, THEN you start adding storage....(Possibly various DAS or NAS solutions, but let's not muddle the muck already :lol: )
SANs almost always are connected only to servers. This eliminated the local hard drives in the servers, and the storage on the SAN can be accessed (theoretically) from any of the SAN connected servers.

DAS would be your local C: drive. That is as Direct as you can get it.
NAS would be like a the Linksys NSLU2 where you can slap a bunch of USB drives and get them on a regular Ethernet... Or IOmega's SCSI solution called Iomega NAS 200d.

So do you really, really want to deploy a full blown infrastructure you have no idea how to manage, or would you be happy with a bastardized computer, dedicated to dishing out data like any other servers, just way way way faster and more efficiently? (a.k.a. NAS)

we also have a small office, less then 100 employees. and so far we doubled our storage system (1 server that stores the DMS) so its now over 400gigs and half used, with a RAID 5.

So like the IOmega solution which I pointed earlier would be a perfect solution. Connect one to the network, map drive and go. That is it. Less then $1,400 direct from manufacturer. The 200d has a box form factor, i.e. lloks like a ... well a box. You could also get the 200m series which is a rack mount version. Both are available in 480GB version for $2,000. Management is extreemly simple.

Now for the cost of deploying a SAN... For less then $6,500 you will have four (4) machines connected to your SAN. Yes, for a mere $6,500 you get for four SAN blades, or SICs (SAN Interface card), which have to be installed into each machine that needs access to the SAN storage solution. Then you get four SAN cables, and one SAN switch. Woohoo! Now go out and buy a NAS to attach to your SAN....And a server to manage your SAN.

The following image is how a "normal" SAN solution would be set up.
[IMG]http://www.chiefofficer.com/inc/img/drawing1.png[/IMG]

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we actually have used a NAS years ago, my former manager set one up with a SNAP server for our documents and it didn't work out too well. i think we may go the route of that program because what i recently found out is the utility we need is actually built into our database, we just need it to be programmed for an end user so they dont have access to the database. this is still up in the air as to what we're going to do, either the program or NAS.

thanks so much for all your help!

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Sounds like you need an in-house programmer to me. That way, you would automatically have the rights to any code that was written internally. With 100 lawyers clacking away, you need at least a network administrator, anyway, who could write the code easily.

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I think the day I wrote the response I had too much coffee. Since I don't drink any coffee, any amount is too much... I might have been a bit annoying. Appologies. :o

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well, currently i am the systems administrator but i have no background in programming, just network engineering. my former manager new a little programming but not enough to create something like this. after speaking with the consultants of our DMS, it seems this project will be quite easy and cheap because like i said, the utility is built into our DB already, he just has to strip it down for an end user so its only function is the archiving.

libertate, you may have written a lot but there's never a day in this field that you wont learn something, i wouldnt call yourself annoying, just have a love for technology.

thanks for the help guys! i definitely appreciated it.

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