Mark Clemens, Senior Account Manager
As you begin to layout your long-term IT strategy, a virtual network infrastructure based on a SAN platform should be high on your list of considerations.
Virtual technology is no longer considered new technology and is regarded by many as the industry standard. Many financial institutions already employ some form of virtual technology within their current infrastructure. As application requirements increase, IT teams are searching for ways to expand and improve the performance capabilities of their existing infrastructure. To truly unlock all of the capabilities of virtual technology, institutions should consider combining virtualization with storage area network (SAN) technology.
Virtualization coupled with a SAN platform creates a robust network infrastructure that can easily and quickly meet the demands of your growing business. Benefits associated with this infrastructure model include:
- Fully utilized IT resources
- Improved flexibility and scalability
- High availability
- Solid disaster recovery
Prior to virtualization technology, most financial institutions were unable to fully utilize the resources available on an individual server. Today’s server equipment is packed with multiple processors, high RAM capacity, and the ability to support terabytes of disk storage space. Most operating systems running in standalone form cannot fully utilize all of the available resources from today’s server equipment. With the advent of virtualization technology, institutions now have the capability to fully utilize the available server resources by installing multiple server operating systems (guests) on one piece of hardware. This technology allows businesses to get the most out of every IT dollar while minimizing other costs associated with physical storage, electrical, and cooling services.
Improved flexibility and scalability are key traits associated with a virtual/SAN infrastructure and allow institutions to adapt to changing IT environments. Requirements such as processor numbers and speed, RAM, disk space, types and speed of data storage partitions, available unused space, and the number of gigabit network connections are just a few of the specifications that must be met. This is especially true with applications such as document imaging and business analytics. By employing a virtual/SAN infrastructure, financial institutions can adjust their network configuration or simply add modules to support the application requirements rather than performing wholesale replacements of existing equipment.
Robust high availability options are another area in which a virtual/SAN infrastructure excels. Hardware issues associated with the previous generation of standalone server models such as motherboard, power supply, or hard drive failures would have little to no effect on employees accessing network resources running on a virtual/SAN infrastructure. The system is designed to automatically redirect resources to compensate for hardware failure. Administrators can then troubleshoot and replace failed equipment without having to take the entire network offline in many cases.
In addition to high availability, this infrastructure model can help address a financial institution’s disaster recovery needs. Features such as SAN-to-SAN replication allow critical data and server infrastructure to be replicated multiple times each day to a designated disaster recovery site with a high success rate. Array replication provides image level recovery that will meet an institution’s recovery time objectives while eliminating the hassle and extensive restore times associated with the traditional server build/restore data process. In the event of a disaster, the replicated images could be booted into the production environment and users redirected with minimal downtime. With appropriate WAN communication circuits and a disaster recovery infrastructure, financial institutions can be confident in their business continuity/disaster recovery program, perform regular disaster recovery tests, and meet regulator exam requirements utilizing this solution.