Using iSCSI

Simplified IT management can be crucial to success for small businesses with limited resources.

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By  Travis Vigil Published  February 13, 2008

Simplified IT management can be crucial to success for small businesses with limited resources.

Although small and medium businesses (SMBs), remote offices, and enterprise departments and workgroups have many of the same IT requirements as large enterprises, their limited resources can make it difficult to meet those requirements.

As data growth rates continue to spiral upward, these organisations strive to meet their storage needs with limited budgets and small staffs, while simultaneously maintaining high levels of utilisation and availability and managing robust backup and recovery processes.

Simplified IT management can be crucial to success.

And because IT staff members may be performing multiple roles in these environments, simplified IT management can be critical to success.

Traditional attempts to meet scalability requirements within such constraints have typically included increasing storage capacity by adding servers and deploying additional tape drives.

However, these approaches have their own disadvantages; in environments with single-application servers, for example, adding servers can result in poor storage utilisation with some servers overflowing (such as e-mail systems) and others hardly utilised at all (such as Web servers).

SMBs and similar organisations are constantly looking for technologies that can provide the capabilities they need while remaining both easy to manage and cost-effective.

Internet SCSI (iSCSI)-based storage is designed to meet these requirements. By providing an entry point into storage area network (SAN) systems that allows these organisations to use standard, cost-effective Ethernet components rather than investing in a Fibre Channel infrastructure, iSCSI is well suited for their needs.

Understanding storage in small and medium businesses

Many SMBs, remote offices, and enterprise departments and workgroups have been relying principally on direct attach storage (DAS) - a simple and logical first step when expanding capacity beyond servers' internal storage.

However, this approach carries a number of disadvantages: it can only handle a limited number of attached hosts, can quickly become unwieldy to manage, and can require investment in additional disk- or tape-based storage systems as capacity requirements rise, resulting in overall poor capacity utilisation. Consolidating to a networked storage environment such as a SAN can help avoid these disadvantages, enabling many hosts to share resources and simplifying management.

Organisations that find themselves working with multiple storage silos not optimised for their needs, having trouble scaling to accommodate data growth, or relying on burdensome backup and data protection processes based on multiple DAS systems are excellent candidates for storage consolidation.

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