A heterogeneous network of both IP-based SAN’s and FCP-based SAN’s should be setup based on a standard naming convention in order to facilitate communication between the client applications and the SAN which stores information. The network architecture should ideally be setup using a naming convention which is simple and precise, whilst facilitating communication between all of the network resources. This technique is based on having a convention which links a variety of technologies together as well as other resources seen on a network.
A heterogeneous network consists of various network nodes with various protocols and operating systems in operation together. In the case of a Storage Area Network (SAN), the various operating systems in use on the network need to be able to see the remote storage volumes as if they are locally attached, therefore speed is essential to the successful working of a SAN. The use of a descriptive naming convention is also important as it means problem identification can be made easier and helps to minimize operator errors on the network.
There are a number of protocols in operation on every network, and the need for an efficient protocol for SAN use is paramount. The current options for running a SAN are to use standard TCP/IP protocols namely the Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI) protocol, or to use a specific protocol called FCP which usually operates over bespoke fiber infrastructure. These protocols are different in the way they operate, however can in fact be used together to improve the performance of a SAN.
A naming convention suitable for a TCP/IP based network is very different to a naming convention for an FCP based network. TCP/IP is a network protocol which is used for communication between resources on a standard LAN, however FCP is a protocol which sends SCSI commands via a fiber optic cable to remote storage devices. The iSCSI protocol allows various network storage resources to be identified and used over standard network protocols, which requires compliance with the standard network naming policy, yet which enables the specific nature of their operation to be identified.
Naming conventions for the LAN and SCSI storage devices should comply with standard network naming conventions. The servers and iSCSI devices which operate on a network should be been named in compliance with a standard policy and should be unique on the switch fabric of the network. Standard SAN naming conventions should be created with a few factors in mind, each component should be named based on its physical location, what it connects to, which database it is used by, and another unique field of identification.
Naming conventions are important because they can save administrators time and effort, and must be created whilst considering many factors. Initially there must be a system whereby network names are created centrally and uniquely so that duplicate records are not made. This naming approach must be consistent throughout the network, and it must be applied across the entire organization regardless of location or operation. This element of the naming convention helps to prevent the duplicity or confusion of network names and is required to enable a high performance network to operate.
This issue is not so important when dealing with an FCP-based SAN, because the devices are connected by a separate network of fiber which cannot usually be accessed by resources on the standard network which do not use specific applications or databases. In conclusion the operation of a storage area network relies on speed and an efficient and effective naming system which is able to be managed, diagnosed and repaired where necessary in the simplest and most cost effective way possible. This must be done consistently when using the standard TCP/IP protocol, however specific FCP SAN protocol allows for a much simpler convention.