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SAN components

SAN components
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A Storage Area Network (SAN) is a core enterprise network that consists of the following components: SAN switches, storage arrays, Host Bus Adapters (HBA), servers and the connecting cables. The components for cabling and cable management systems used in SAN networks require special attention.

Generally, a fiber channel SAN cabling system is a high-density multimode-based system. Fiber channel ports can be LC duplex or, in the case of newer versions, MTP®. SAN switches are rack-mounted devices with between 192 duplex ports (4-blade chassis with 48 ports each) and 512 duplex ports (8-blade chassis with 64 ports each), with an even higher number of ports expected in the future. Several devices can be installed in one rack, meaning that the number of duplex ports can be up to 1024 ports per standard 19” cabinet. SAN switches then need to be connected to servers or storage via fiber trunks.

The basic scenario for cabling deployment is to place a patch panel in the server cabinet and connect this panel with another patch panel installed in a SAN switch cabinet. An interconnection is then established from the server HBA to the patch panel, and from the SAN fiber channel port to the patch panel, as well as the interconnection between the server and SAN. Since SAN systems are always redundant, there will be two cabling sub-systems within the same data hall. Server racks always have two modules: one branch connected to one SAN switch and another module connected to a redundant SAN switch. However, this approach has the following disadvantages:
  • Constant changes to the patch cords that connect the patch panel and SAN switch ports in a cabinet lead to cable mess in a SAN switch rack.
  • Cable mess in a SAN switch rack has a negative impact on airflow near the device.
  • Constantly plugging and unplugging the connectors on fiber channel ports may damage transceivers.
  • SAN switch rack cabinet design does not provide good cable management for handling all patch cords and patch cord slacks.
Fortunately, there are better ways to create a SAN cabling infrastructure. One of the possible solutions is to implement intermediate cross-connect distribution racks. In this case, all server racks are connected to the cross-connect rack via fiber trunks and the SAN switch is connected to the same cross-connect with SAN port replication components, such as SAN high-density blade organisers or port-replication optical harnesses. This approach can mitigate the risks of damaging the SAN switch ports because the connection is made only once when the switch is deployed. All further changes of connectivity are done in a separate rack, which is specifically designed to handle Moves, Adds and Changes (MACs).

A similar approach can also be used for LAN (Local Area Network) or any other network. In this case, LAN ports are replicated to the same cross-connect rack, and all interconnections between servers and networks (SAN, LAN) are made in this rack.
 

Main distribution frame

Fiber trunks

Data center cable management

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