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Break Through Virtualization Bottlenecks


in Your Data Center With Optimized iSCSI Storage Solutions


22 BY STEPHEN J. BIGELOW A


s advancements in technology march on, so do the demands on your data center. A bottleneck in the storage network will hinder the effective use


of server virtualization and hamper the corresponding ability to centralize virtual machine (VM) images, snapshots, virtual desktop instances and other content.


Prepare for Virtualization with Smart iSCSI Planning Today, Ethernet-based storage networks, such as iSCSI,


have emerged as reliable and economical alternatives to traditional Fibre Channel networks. But iSCSI can still pose deployment problems and performance bottlenecks for unprepared IT organizations. Let´s run down a series of iSCSI best practices that can help businesses adopt and deploy iSCSI technology most effectively from the start.


Update the network to Gigabit Ethernet or faster. The


days of 10/100Mbps Ethernet are long behind us, and almost all current servers, switches, and other data center infrastructure supports 1 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE); this should be the minimum network bandwidth requirement for iSCSI. Faster 10GbE would be preferable to ease potential bandwidth contention between storage, application and user traffic on the same LAN. Review the network architecture to locate and remediate slower servers or identify opportunities to deploy 10GbE in busy backbone network segments.


When Gigabit Ethernet is employed, it may take multiple server-class network interface cards (NICs) to provide the bandwidth needed for demanding applications and multiple virtualized workloads. When 10GbE is available for iSCSI deployment, performance may be improved by optimizing disk striping, formatting,


provisioning and other tasks that focus on the storage array rather than the network proper.


Choose the Right Cable for Maximum Connectivity Update network cabling to support the LAN. Copper


Ethernet cables are the simplest, most popular and least expensive form of network cabling. However, GbE and 10GbE can put serious demands on copper cables, so it´s important to follow up any network architecture review with a cabling review.


Technically, GbE can use Category 5e (CAT 5E) and


Category 6 (CAT 6) copper cabling, while 10GbE relies on CAT 6 up to 55 meters, Category 6a (CAT 6A) or Category 7 (CAT 7) copper cables. Lower cabling categories may not support top speed for faster Ethernet, so plan cabling updates to take advantage of top LAN speeds, especially in network backbone segments.


How to Ensure Your Storage Stays Up and Running Use a storage fabric architecture for resilience. Consider


the need for storage network resilience when evaluating the network architecture for iSCSI. If resilience is needed, consider a fabric-type network design that interconnects redundant NICs, switches and other devices within the LAN. The goal here is to eliminate possible single points of failure in the network that might potentially cut off communication between storage initiators and targets— a catastrophic event for almost any enterprise application. Nonessential servers may not benefit from such resilience, but the added cost and complexity of a resilient network may be well worth the effort for mission-critical servers and workloads that demand reliable storage access.


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