Storage Area Networks

Storage Area Networks (SAN) are used primarily in enterprise datacenters and large-scale, high performance computing applications, and have become a popular way of managing ever increasing storage requirements in a cost-effective and highly flexible way.

What is Storage Area Network?

A storage area network is a special, high-speed network used to connect storage devices, like disk arrays and tape libraries, to enterprise servers. In contrast with direct-attached storage (DAS), SANs separate the data storage function from the data processing function, allowing greater storage flexibility and utilization, and easier central management.

SANs differ from other types of network storage by using a block-level access methods instead of the traditional file-level access methods used for shared file space or NAS appliances.

SANS may use the Fiber Channel (FC) networking protocol, connected over fiber optic cables to FC switches, which are connected together to form a storage network or “fabric.” An alternative is the iSCSI protocol, an implementation of the well-known SCSI command set designed to work over fast Ethernet networks.

SAN Benefits

  • Higher Availability – SAN storage is usually significantly more reliable than direct attached disks.
  • Disk Utilization – a SAN solution can deliver a lower TCO by efficiently allocating SAN storage, without requiring large empty disks for future growth.
  • Easier Management– a SAN can be used to dynamically manage and allocate storage via centrally administration.
  • Advanced Features – SANs offer advanced storage facilities like storage snap shots, data replication facilities and other flexible storage options.