Storage UPDATE, October 27, 2003

Storage UPDATE--October 27, 2003

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1. Commentary

- San Francisco Users Group Takes on iSCSI

2. News and Views

- New SNIA Forum Aimed at Data Management

- Maxtor and LSI Logic Demo Serial Storage

3. Announcements

- Last Chance to Register: Windows & .NET Magazine Connections

- Readers' Choice and Best of Show Nominees and Winners

4. Resource

- USB Storage Device No Longer Functions After Upgrade from Windows 2000

5. Event

- We've Added 3 New Web Seminars

6. New and Improved

- RAID 5 Controller for Entry-Level Environments

- Schedule Backups to Run Automatically

- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

7. Contact Us

- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.

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==== 1. Commentary ====

by Mark Smith, [email protected]

San Francisco Users Group Takes on iSCSI

Each month, the San Francisco Networking Technologies Users Group (SFNTUG-- ) hires top professionals to teach and lead SFNTUG members through loading and configuring Windows Server-related hardware and software. These "loadfests" are well attended and often provide SFNTUG members their only source of training for leading-edge technology. During one 7-hour training session in October, the SFNTUG took on the task of configuring an eight-node Windows Server 2003 cluster and connecting 35 Windows servers to an Internet SCSI (iSCSI) Storage Area Network (SAN).

"We needed an inexpensive SAN solution that utilized off-the-shelf components, and iSCSI got the job done," says Doug Spindler, president of the SFNTUG. To contribute to the loadfest, participating members brought their own servers, each of which had two NICs and Windows 2003, Enterprise Edition installed. One NIC on each machine was connected to an Ethernet network, and the other NIC was configured to connect to an iSCSI storage concentrator provided by StoneFly Networks.

The loadfest used Microsoft's free file system driver, the Microsoft iSCSI Software Initiator Version 1.01, which redirects file system activity to a particular NIC. Here's how the driver works. First, the iSCSI Software Initiator traps the file system commands and encapsulates an iSCSI command within a TCP/IP packet. The initiator redirects this packet through the NIC and across the network. The StoneFly iSCSI storage concentrator (an iSCSI gateway) receives the TCP/IP packet, reads the encapsulated iSCSI commands, then directs the data packet to the appropriate SCSI disk drive connected to its gateway.

Before you can start redirecting traffic to the storage concentrator, you must first configure it by using the StoneFly Networks management UI. The basic idea is to assign SCSI disk storage to the attached servers. "We assigned disk storage to all 35 attached servers in less than a half hour. The StoneFly tool is very intuitive," says Spindler. After the StoneFly concentrator is configured, it's ready to receive data traffic.

StoneFly supports all levels of RAID storage, so you can create highly redundant disk storage configurations. In addition, because each of the 35 servers included Windows 2003, Enterprise Edition, SFNTUG members were able to create an eight-node cluster by using the built-in Microsoft clustering software. "Once we had our cluster set up, we started unplugging servers one at a time to see if the other server nodes in the cluster would pick up the load. Each server was running Windows Media Player \[WMP\] and playing an MP3 play list. As each server was unplugged, the failover server in the group picked up the load and started playing the appropriate tunes," says Spindler.

Spindler notes that achieving maximum performance wasn't a key objective of the loadfest. The main point of the exercise was to familiarize SFNTUG members with Windows clustering technology and iSCSI SAN technology. To improve iSCSI performance, you'll need to make sure that the iSCSI concentrator contains a TCP/IP Offload Engine (TOE) card. In addition, the iSCSI SAN will need multiple NICs to load-balance data traffic across the network.

The fact that user groups are teaching iSCSI technology demonstrates to me that iSCSI is starting to move out of the technology acceptance phase into a corporate early adopter phase. This phase is the critical testing phase that will determine whether iSCSI becomes a mainstream tool or a niche solution.

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==== 2. News and Views ====

by Keith Furman, [email protected]

New SNIA Forum Aimed at Data Management

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) has formed a new group, called the Data Management Forum (DMF), to focus on data-related protection, retention, and lifecycle management concerns. Targeted at IT professionals, the forum will "define, progress, qualify, and teach improved and reliable methods for the protection, retention, and lifecycle management of electronic data and information." The DMF will also include SNIA's Enhanced Backup Solutions Initiative (EBSI), which was previously an independent initiative. The EBSI's mission was similar to the DMF's.

Two initiatives are already underway as part of the DMF. The Data Protection Initiative focuses on projects that SNIA began under the EBSI, including designing an architectural model for data protection, publishing a data-protection glossary and implementation guidelines, and maintaining an "EnhancedBackup IT" Web site. The Information Lifecycle Management Initiative is new and focuses on a similar set of projects as the Data Protection Initiative, but for operating practices.

Additional information about the DMF is available at the URL below.

Maxtor and LSI Logic Demo Serial Storage

In Scottsdale, Arizona, Maxtor and LSI Logic demonstrated serial storage at Maxtor's Serial Storage in a Box Technology Symposium. The first public demonstration of four key serial protocols operating simultaneously, according to Maxtor and LSI, used Serial ATA (SATA) hard drives, Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) hard drive prototypes, SAS controllers, and SAS expander prototypes.

Using these technologies, the companies transferred data between SATA and SAS hard drives. "The significance of the interoperability of these technologies is that it validates that SATA and SAS hard drives can be used together in a single storage system," said Kevin Wittmer, director of technical marketing for Maxtor's Server Products Group. "This allows IT managers to create pools of storage based on a combination of SATA and SAS hard drives that can be allocated to applications based on performance, availability, capacity, and cost requirements."

Related to SAS, the demonstration showed off executing SCSI read/write command pairs that used the full Serial Attached SCSI Protocol (SSP). The SATA demonstration included the use of Serial ATA Tunneling Protocol (STP) and SATA protocol. The companies also used Serial Management Protocol (SMP) for discovery and expander management.

==== 3. Announcements ====

(from Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)

Last Chance to Register: Windows & .NET Magazine Connections

Windows & .NET Magazine Connections will co-locate with Exchange Connections on November 2-5. Now is your last chance to register. Learn the latest tips and tricks from gurus like Mark Minasi, Mark Russinovich, Tony Redmond, and Sue Mosher. Attend both conferences for the price of one, plus you'll have a chance to win a free vacation. Register now.

Readers' Choice and Best of Show Nominees and Winners

The votes are in! We asked you, our readers, to give us your opinions about the latest industry products and services. Find out who is the best of the best!

==== 4. Resource ====

USB Storage Device No Longer Functions After Upgrade from Windows 2000

After you upgrade from Win2K to Windows Server 2003, you might find that a USB storage device connected to your computer no longer works. Additionally, a duplicate USB storage device might appear in Device Manager and in the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) Removable Storage snap-in. To learn the reason for this problem and how to work around it, go to Microsoft's Web site at the URL below.

==== 5. Event ====

(brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine)

We've Added 3 New Web Seminars

You won't want to miss our latest free Web seminars: Understanding the Identity Management Roadmap and How it Fits with Your Microsoft Infrastructure, Assessing IM Risks on Your Network, and Five Keys to Choosing the Right Patch Management Solution. Register today for these informative and timely Web events!

==== 6. New and Improved ====

by Renee Munshi, [email protected]

RAID 5 Controller for Entry-Level Environments

Promise Technology announced the FastTrak S150 SX4, a RAID 5 PCI Serial ATA (SATA) adapter for SATA/150 drives. FastTrak S150 SX4 replaces the traditional I/O processor on the RAID host bus adapter (HBA) with a low-cost, high-performance Promise RAID 5 application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) that integrates a RAID 5 exclusive OR (XOR) engine and cache memory controller. FastTrak S150 SX4 provides four independent SATA ports for as many as four Serial ATA/150 drives and is designed for entry-level server environments. Currently, the controller supports protected, high-performance RAID 5 capacities up to 750GB. FastTrak S150 SX4 is priced at $199. For more information, visit Promise's Web site.

Schedule Backups to Run Automatically

PANTERASoft released Careful Backup 1.53, a backup solution for corporations, small businesses, and homes that lets you schedule backup tasks to run automatically. You can back up data to floppy disks, hard disk drives (HDDs), CD-R and CD-RW discs, or external drives. Careful Backup supports a built-in recording system for CD-R/RW that runs under Windows XP. The product also features LAN support and lets you compress data into ZIP format while backing it up. The application can keep an separate log for every backup task and has a wizard-like interface. Careful Backup costs $34.95. A free trial version is available for download at the company's Web site.

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==== 7. Contact Us ====

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Copyright 2003, Penton Media, Inc.

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