IP SAN Performance — Best Practices
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SAN benefits of improved storage utilization, high availability and data protection are well understood. Today there are two protocols available for building block-based SANs, FC and iSCSI. Both protocols use SCSI commands generated by the file systems of the servers. These SCSI commands are converted by the iSCSI or FC protocol so they can move thru a network to and from a centralized data storage system (usually one or several large disk arrays) where the commands are executed. In the case of FC (fibrechannel) the network equipment is specific to the protocol. In the case of iSCSI the network equipment type is anything that will handle IP packets, 1GB Ethernet is the most popular.
There are many IT professionals considering iSCSI based IP-SAN's as a means for centralizing storage for their application servers. As opposed to FC-SANs, IP-SANs have the benefit of being based on TCP/IP allowing businesses to use standard Ethernet equipment, NICs, tools and the knowledge base within their IT staff. But when data is being read and written across an IP-SAN instead of to internal disk drives, users are concerned that network latencies will degrade server performance. Similar to an FC-SAN, when using an IPSAN the server, the network and the storage system all play a part in application performance and client satisfaction. It's important to understand how to identify and eliminate latency bottlenecks to ensure superior application performance. In many cases, a properly designed IP-SAN can deliver better performance than internal disk drives.