I’ve said before that Microsoft’s work in the field of enterprise storage was truly remarkable. Every other operating system vendor, as well as the grubby hordes developing Linux and BSD, should be ashamed that the “evil empire” beat them to the punch with great storage ideas like VSS, VDS, and transportable backup integration. Well, it seems Microsoft is changing the SAN landscape in another way – the Simple SAN initiative.
Although most folks haven’t heard about it, Simple SAN is Redmond’s way to force vendors to improve interoperability and ease of installation for networked SAN storage, whether it is Fibre Channel or iSCSI.
How does this help us? Simply, Microsoft forced participating vendors to pair up qualified hardware and an integrated driver set with easy documentation, including a one-page poster for installation. Think TiVo easy.
And it works. I went up to EqualLogic on Monday and set up an iSCSI SAN myself. It was easy to get the thing started without cracking the books. Sadly, though, their poster ended right where I needed help – configuring Microsoft’s iSCSI initiator software, which proved to be a frustratingly multi-click, multi-tab, search-everywhere-and-click-advanced operation. Claude Lorenson promises to make it easier in the next rev… If I had cracked the books, I would have had all the answers, though.
All in all was so easy I got silly and started trying to do stupid stuff with it. Which I did! Since EqualLogic lets you write to snapshots, I made one and added it to a dynamic disk group of regular volumes. This is highly dumb, but it was fun to see it work. It was also fun to watch Victory by Design stream from one array while migrating the volume to another… But now I’m digressing!
Go see for yourself. Check out a Simple SAN product and be amazed what you can do. Despite some frustration, I bet any Windows admin could have a SAN up and running in under an hour. Which was the whole point…