on June 26, 2005
This book was not what I expected...I pre-ordered it as soon as I saw that Cisco Press had a new storage book coming out, and I expected that at least some of its content would cover Cisco's storage products (the MDS line in particular). I got the book the week it came out, looked at the TOC and was immediately disappointed. That's the bad news. The good news is that I read the book anyway and was very pleasantly suprised. This is an awesome book about "storage networking fundamentals". Had my expectations been in line with the very clear title, I wouldn't have been disappointed. The title is not misleading, I just assumed that it would have MDS content.
This is definitely the most relevant and up-to-date text about storage networking, and I find myself constantly recommending it to other engineers who want to see what storage networking is all about. As other reviewers noted - the author doesn't go terribly deep on every topic. Again, the title says it all - "fundamentals". If you are new to the storage world, this is currently the one "must read" in my opinion.
One small gripe that comes to mind is the author's failure to differentiate between RAID 0+1 and 1+0. He, like many others, makes the mistake of calling RAID 0+1 "RAID 10". To be clear, 0+1 is striping and then mirroring the striped sets. 1+0 (aka RAID 10) is mirroring and then striping across the mirrored sets. Too many people think this difference isn't important, but it is!
on August 8, 2005
Storage Networking Fundamentals: An Introduction to Storage Devices, Subsystems, Applications, Management, and File Systems
Reviewer Name: David Hodde
Reviewer Certification(s): CCIE
Rating: **** out of *****
As the name indicates this book is an introduction to all aspects of storage networking. While you think it may just deal with SANs, it does not. Author Marc Farley starts with as he calls it, "The Big Picture of Storage Netorking". These chapters cover basic storage principles and how storage I/O works. He then follows with a discussion of the different storage architectures available and their history. While this may not seem important, for the person entering the storage arena it's valuable information to know where storage has come in the last 20 years.
The next two parts cover data redundancy and storage and data management. Farley gives very good descriptions on the different redundancy options available. He also goes into an analysis of the different advantages and disadvantages of each. While it's not an extensive discussion it does give an administrator a basis for an analysis. Discussions of remote file copy and multipathing, which are very important in storage networking, are described and broken down into terms that the novice storage person can comprehend.
While the first three parts of the book may seem like a review and unnecessary to most. They do provide a good foundation for Parts IV and V, which deal with storage and data management. As Farley points out these two areas are important and should not book overlooked by the storage administrator. With the ever changing legal environment and governmental regulations, data management and retention looks to be the next big evolution in storage management.
As advertised Storage Networking Fundamentals: An Introduction to Storage Devices, Subsystems, Applications, Management, and File Systems provides a good introduction to storage fundamentals for the person new to storage. For the person already familiar with storage it provides details that were either not know or forgotten. At the very least it provides some of the latest information in the storage arena.
I would highly recommend this book for anybody involved with storage administration or storage networking.
on June 26, 2005
Storage Networking Fundamentals is a very well written book. As its title implies, it provides a fantastic introduction to Storage Area Networking, providing details from disk drive mechanics to Information Life-Cycle Management (ILM). Furthermore, this book impressed me because it consistently did one thing: it did not push or suggest Cisco products. This book very clearly at the beginning stated it was a not a networking book, but a storage book. It then sets out to explain Storage Area Networking in vendor neutral terms. If fact, it pokes fun at a few vendors because of the multitude of standards and technologies in Storage Networking. This should be commended as well as appreciated. The author does not adhere to one vendor's technology, but addresses general terms and explains where differences between vendors occur.
I particularly liked Part II of the book that covered the actual hardware and software that makes a SAN work. This nicely started with a detailed overview of hard drives, the building blocks of storage, and ended with technologies for connecting Storage Area Networks. Very nice growth and building on previous chapters.
My only small complaint about the book was its chapter layout. It would've been easier to understand Part II if Chapter 14 and 15 would've come first. This explains file systems and how they interact with storage. Being an introduction to Storage Area Networking, it would've been appropriate to explain storage to the reader as they perceive storage now. And since an introductory reader understands file systems, since they interact with a personal computer daily, it would've been nice to include these concepts earlier in the book. However, this is a minor flaw.
Overall, I recommend this book to anyone looking to start learning Storage Area Networking. A very well written book with easy to understand concepts. 5 Stars!
Michael J. Morris
on June 13, 2005
Storage Networking Fundamentals (ISBN 1-58705-162-1) by Marc Farley is an introductory book on storage fundamentals. It does a decent job of presenting a broad range of topics in storage networking and is well suited for a reader looking to gain a high level understanding of how SAN, NAS, and other related aspects of data storage tie in together. In other words, this book is a good high-level overview of the topic (somewhat like a first-semester book in college); if someone is looking for guidance on implementation specifics related to storage area networks, this book is not for you.
The book in general is readable for the most part. However, in certain sections of the book, the book loses the attention of the reader. This is primarily due to the lack of concrete, real-life examples to illustrate the concepts in the book. I have always found that the best books are those that provide real-life examples (with actual commands, output from those commands, and analysis of these outputs) to support the concepts that are being presented. Such an approach helps to keep the reader alert and not make the content so theoretical in some cases or so cursory in others, that the reader loses interest. Furthermore, real-life application of the concepts helps to understand and remember the theory as well. This book, IMHO, does not accomplish this goal very well at all.
The format of the book is very well laid out. The headings are clear and delineating, allowing the reader to find the major points in the book easily. The diagrams and notes are well laid out. Each chapter concludes with a summary section and a small set of questions. Also, the writer has included the answers to these questions as a appendix at the end of the book - a very helpful feature and one that adds to the usefulness of the questions at the end of each chapter.
From amongst the whole book, I found Part III, Working with Devices and Subsystems in Storage Networks, to be most useful in content. This part covers the architecture for the SAN in some detail and provides the reader with a good presentation of the "big picture".
The high level, nonspecific approach of the book would be fine other than the fact that the author writes in the introduction that this book is written for "systems, networking, and storage professionals who want to gain an in-depth understanding of the processes and architectures used in storage," So while this books presents a good overview of the technology, it is not suited for an in-depth, detailed study on the topic.
on February 16, 2005
No teniendo por mi parte, conocimiento previo de los actuales sistemas en red para el respaldo de información, este libro resulta ser una excelente introducción al tema. El libro inicia con la presentación de los requerimientos de alta disponibilidad de información impuesta a los sistemas de hoy en día, lo cual a su vez implica la necesidad de mejores maneras y tecnologías para el almacenamiento y recuperación de la información; basado en lo anterior, el autor dedica el resto del libro a presentar y explicar esos procedimientos y tecnologías.
Resulta muy ilustrativo que al principio del libro, cuando se hace la presentación de los diferentes sistemas de información (DAS: Direct Attached Storage; SAN: Storage Area Network; NAS: Network Attached Storage) el autor hace un paralelismo con las redes de datos y les aplica conceptos tales como arquitectura, escalabilidad, topología, redundancia, lo cual, para alguien con conocimiento previo de las redes de datos, le permite entender inmediatamente las posibilidades, limitaciones, requerimientos, e inclusive, la ubicación e interacción, de los elementos del sistema de almacenamiento con los demás componentes de la red.
El almacenamiento en red es dividido en 3 funciones: conexión (la transmisión de datos); almacenamiento (los protocolos de control para la interacción entre los sistemas y dispositivos); y el archivado (la colocación de los datos en los medios de almacenamiento); de estas 3 funciones, a la que se le dedica más tiempo es a la de almacenamiento. La división en funciones también predispone a pensar inmediatamente en la existencia de un stack de protocolos, que de hecho existe, pero no existe correspondencia directa con el stack TCP/IP porque las funciones de almacenamiento y archivado se considera que se encuentran en la capa de aplicación, y la de conexión estaría distribuida en todas las demás.
También resulta interesante conocer que en un sistema de almacenamiento de información la "integridad" de la información implica además el orden en la escritura y la consistencia de los datos, lo cual a su vez tiene implicaciones en los protocolos de comunicación, porque dependiendo de la aplicación, la integridad de la información podría significar un sistema de almacenamiento con capacidad de respuesta similar a la de un sistema de tiempo real, y esto implica que no siempre TCP/IP será el protocolo a utilizar. Ahora bien, el libro no trata el tema de los protocolos utilizados en los sistemas de almacenamiento, aunque esto no demerita el objetivo de ser una introducción a los sistemas de almacenamiento en red. Como complemento, y siendo un tema también importante, una parte del libro se dedica a la administración del proceso de almacenamiento y a la de los datos.
El libro está bien estructurado, sigue una secuencia lógica de temas, con capítulos cortos que ayudan a obtener una visión panorámica que todo libro introductorio pretende, y quizá el único material que consideraría suprimible sería el capítulo dedicado al funcionamiento de discos duros y el respaldo en cintas. Lectura rápida, amena, suficiente, bien ilustrada... buen libro.
Excellent Introductory Book to the Subject
Not having on my behalf, previous knowledge of the current Storage Networking Systems, this book is an excellent introduction to the subject. The book starts with the presentation of the high-availability requirements imposed to today's systems, that in return, implies the need for better ways and technologies for information storage and retrieving; based on that, the author uses the rest of the book to present and explain those procedures and technologies.
It is very illustrative that at the beginning of the book, when the different types of storage systems are presented (DAS: Direct Attached Storage; SAN: Storage Area Network; NAS: Network Attached Storage) the author makes a parallelism with the data networks, and applies to the storage systems concepts such as architecture, scalability, topology, redundancy, etc. as a way of compare them, which, for someone with previous knowledge of the data networks, allows her or him, to immediately understand the possibilities, limitations, requirements, and inclusively, the location and interaction of the elements of the type of storage system with the other parts of the network.
The process of storage networking is divided in 3 functions: Connection (data transmission); Storing (the control protocols for the interaction between systems and devices), and Filing (the positioning and retrieval of data to and from the storing device). Of the 3 functions, the Storing is the one that the book dedicates more time. The division of the storage networking process in functions, predisposes to think in the existence of a protocol stack, that certainly exists, but there is no direct correspondence between this protocol stack and the TCP/IP stack, because the Storing and Filing functions are considered to be part of the Application layer, and the Connection function would be distributed on all of the other layers of the TCP/IP stack.
Also, it was interesting to know that in a Storage Networking System, the "information integrity" also implies the orderly-writing and consistency of the data, and than that has consequences on the communication protocols, because depending on the application, data integrity could imply an a storage networking system with a response capacity similar to a real time system, and that means that not always TCP/IP will be the protocol to use. Now, the book doesn't treat the subject of the protocols used in the storage networking systems, but this doesn't diminish the book objective of being and introduction to those systems. As a complement, and being also an important subject, a chapter of the book is dedicated to the administration of the storing process and the administration of the stored data.
The book is well structured, it follows a logic subject sequence, with short chapters that help to get that panoramic view that every introductory book pretends, and the only material that I would consider as suppressible would be the chapter dedicated to how the storing on hard drives and tapes works. Quick reading, entertaining, enough, well illustrated... good book.