Neo : "I know Kung Fu".
This line from the Matrix came to mind when I finished this finger-thick book from O'Reilly.
Having waded through plenty of vendor-centric whitepapers and marketing documents on SANs and NAS, I still had plenty of questions itching to be scratched. This book did a great deal to tackle them.
Rather than profile the target reader by job title or function, the author
sets out questions he wants to provide answers for. Paraphrasing, they
"what are SANs/NAS",
"what is the difference between SANs/NAS",
"which is right for me",
"what will a SAN/NAS solution allow me to do",
"what tasks will I face dealing with SANs/NAS".
The clarity and honesty with which Preston deals with these questions is refreshing and highly informative.
Besides citing pros and cons for various SAN and NAS storage, backup and recovery solutions, the author provides historical background to help the reader understand where these solutions are coming from and what problems they were trying to solve.
None of the historical content (which includes sections on SCSI/SAN, NFS/CIFS/NAS and NDMP development) is so lengthy as to be a diversion from the main drive of the text.
The chapters on backup and recovery for both SAN and NAS do an excellent job of cleanly presenting the various clueful solutions (LAN-free, server-free, client-free, snapshots, mirrors, NDMP, etc) available to admins. I also commend the author for a well reasoned clarification of the potentially confusing "client/server-free" terminology used in this area.
Amidst the generic explanations of storage challenges and solutions, the author briefly cites real-world examples of various vendor solutions, and does so without touting the virtues of any particular player in the market.
There is very little in the way of errata listed on the O'Reilly site for this edition, mostly minor typos which should do nothing to mislead the reader.
This is an excellent book for those with fundamental questions on SANs and NAS, but also provides sufficient depth for the reader to appreciate usage pros and cons in various scenarious.
I highly recommend this book.
Table of contents
Ch 1 : What are SANs and NAS? Ch 2 : Fibre Channel Architecture. Ch 3 : Managing a SAN. Ch 4 : SAN Backup and Recovery. Ch 5 : NAS Architcture. Ch 6 : Managing NAS. Ch 7 : NAS Backup and Recovery. App A : Disruptive Technologies. App B : RAID Levels.