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The Joy of SAN

By David Em

Storing and managing data across a shared working environment can be a challenge. It's an issue we deal with all the time at the BYTE Media Lab, where we are forever testing hardware and software that requires accessing image, sound, and video files, and moving them from one system to another.

A couple months ago we finally integrated all these working files on a Storage Area Network (SAN), deploying Gigabit Ethernet components from D-Link and Linksys. I wish we'd done it a long time ago-the improvement in both workflow and productivity has been dramatic.

Wired and Wireless

We decided to take advantage of our existing Category-5 cable infrastructure instead of investing in a costly move to fiber. The first step was to upgrade our older 10/100 BASE computers with 1000 Mbps network adapters. We chose D-Link's $25 Giga Express DGE-530T, a copper Gigabit card that fits into 32-bit PCI bus slot and auto-negotiates 10/100/1000 Mbps.

For wireless connectivity we used D-Link's $120 Air Premier AG DWL 7100AP Wireless Access Point (WAP). The 802.11a/b/g DWL 7100AP delivers up to 108 Mbps while remaining backwards compatible with 802.11b devices. It functions as a 5GHz 80211a wireless bridge while simultaneously providing functionality for 2.04 GHz 802.11 b/g networks.

The unit's a good choice if you're building a new network or extending the range of an existing one. It can operate as an Access Point, Point-to-Point Bridge, Point-to-Multipoint Bridge, or as a Repeater. The 7100AP also has three levels of WEP encryption (64/128/152-bit) as well as MAC address filtering,Wireless LAN segmentation, Disable SSID Broadcast, and support for Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption.

For wireless PC cards we used D-Link's $75 DWL AG 660 CardBus Adapter that also operates at 802.11 a/b/g and up to 108 Mbps. Your portable devices should be able to access any wireless network you come across with one of these.