A storage-area network (SAN) is a dedicated high-speed network (or subnetwork) that interconnects and presents shared pools of disk arrays (and other storage devices) are accessible to servers as a mapped drive mount point.
Storage-Area Network (SAN)
Storage-Area Network (SAN) is a network that pools storage capacity and delivers it over an exclusive, high-speed link. This gives servers faster access to large volumes of storage than what can be provided through traditional local area networks (LANs).
SANs are commonly utilized by large organizations to meet their high-performance computing and data analytics demands. These systems typically rely on a fiber channel fabric for high bandwidth and redundancy.
What is a SAN?
A Storage Area Network (SAN) is a high-speed computer network connecting storage devices with servers. Through various protocols and technologies, it enables organizations to store, manage, secure, and distribute data efficiently.
SANs are ideal for enterprises that require large volumes of data storage and swift access to them. They have become widely adopted across industries such as software development and IT services.
A SAN has many features that make it simple to use and manage, including the flexibility to add or remove storage devices at will. Furthermore, this helps optimize disk utilization by enabling users to share space more effectively.
Another advantage of a SAN is its improved redundancy and real-time traffic rerouting features. These come in handy during server failure or other hardware issues. Furthermore, the system features dynamic failover protection, automatically redirecting traffic to another location if an issue arises.
A SAN also boasts centralized backup capabilities that can back up the entire network in real-time, protecting it against any data loss or downtime due to an error in one of its storage devices.
The SAN infrastructure consists of three layers: host, fabric and storage. The host layer consists of servers connecting to the SAN and running enterprise workloads such as databases. To communicate with storage resources on the SAN through their operating system, these servers use a host bus adapter – an exclusive network interface dedicated solely to SAN access – in conjunction with their host bus adapter.
As its name implies, the storage layer consists of magnetic hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs). These drive are then connected to logical unit numbers (LUNs), or blocks of shared storage.
LUNs can then be organized into logical storage entities such as RAID groups and disk partitions for increased capacity or improved reliability. Each storage entity is assigned its own SAN LUN, which is the access point to that resource from any SAN host.
What does a SAN network do?
A Storage-Area Network (SAN) is a network of storage devices that provides shared storage that multiple computers and servers can access. SANs enable centralized management of storage resources while applying consistent policies for security, data protection, and disaster recovery.
SANs offer increased storage reliability by eliminating single points of failure that might prevent a server from accessing storage. A SAN network requires at least two connections between elements to increase redundancy. The fabric contains various networking devices such as SAN switches, gateways, routers, and protocol bridges that connect hosts to storage devices.
These devices can be connected to the SAN using either traditional copper-based or optical fiber networks. They support a range of protocols that enable SAN layers, applications, and operating systems to communicate with one another. The most popular is Fibre Channel (FC). Other less-used alternatives include Internet Small Computing System Interface (iSCSI), which offers cost savings over FC, and fiber channel over Ethernet (FCoE).
The SAN layer consists of a host layer composed of SAN servers that run enterprise workloads requiring access to shared storage. This host layer communicates with the SAN via internal logical SCSI commands encapsulated in packets for transmission over fiber or copper cables to reach its HBA (host bus adapter).
Once received by one of the SAN switches, FC request packet(s) are forwarded to its associated storage device. The storage device then returns all requested data to the SAN switch in a repeating cycle until all information has been transferred.
Another key benefit of a SAN is its capacity to handle large volumes of data with high performance and capacity. For instance, a 128 Gbps Fibre Channel SAN can meet enterprise databases’ throughput and latency demands. Furthermore, SANs offer parallel processing and hot-swappable drives for improved data management.
SANs support a range of operating systems, applications, and virtualization technologies to give your infrastructure the stability it needs to avoid application outages in dynamic environments. Furthermore, SANs accelerate data transfers between VMs and hosts for improved application performance. Furthermore, SANs boast advanced backup features that simplify IT system administrator tasks. Furthermore, SANs offer dynamic failover protection to help reroute traffic in case an emergency or when a server needs maintenance occurs.
Major benefits of SANs
A major advantage of a Storage Area Network (SAN) is its storage flexibility, high availability, and increased disk utilization. Furthermore, SANs boost server application performance while decreasing the cost of deploying additional hardware for storage purposes. Furthermore, these networks are ideal for organizations utilizing virtualization in their data centers.
Another major advantage of a SAN is that it offers numerous useful management functions. These include data encryption, deduplication, replication, and self-healing technologies, which help organizations maximize storage capacity, security, and resilience.
SANs can also support high-speed fiber channel technology, which uses optical cables to transmit data. This ensures fast and dependable performance, mainly when applied to large-scale storage systems.
These Storage Area Networks (SANs) are ideal for applications that handle massive amounts of data, like ERP and CRM programs. Furthermore, video editors easily download and distribute large files over the network.
For instance, a database system processing several thousand input-output operations per second (IOPS) would benefit from a SAN because it necessitates storage capacity to handle the massive data volumes required by the application. Furthermore, the SAN must guarantee consistent performance and stability to these applications.
A SAN can also benefit small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). IT administrators in these organizations typically manage multiple applications, servers and desktops; a SAN can centralize these resources in one location.
Furthermore, SANs are an ideal solution for SMBs with high data growth expectations. With SANs, businesses can easily scale their storage capacity on demand without investing in new hardware – saving money and decreasing space requirements in the data center that may be an issue for smaller firms.
Finally, a SAN can assist an SMB with disaster recovery and business continuity. Since it is data loss resistant, it protects data during a disaster. Furthermore, SANs enable fast recovery after a catastrophe by providing access to data through one redundant server.
Though SANs can be an invaluable addition to any IT infrastructure, they may not be suitable for every organization. Organizations that possess the required expertise and IT staffing should find success with it; if your small business doesn’t meet these criteria, another storage solution may be more suitable.
Costs of SANs
Enterprise computing uses SANs (Sharable Antennas) to consolidate data from local storage devices into a shared pool of resources. When one server fails, the data is automatically moved to another, eliminating the need for copying over LAN from device to device and saving time while increasing capacity.
According to your requirements, there are various kinds of SANs. From high-end disk arrays and switches to smaller scale-out systems, the ideal SAN for your organization depends on your required storage and budget.
As a rule, SANs tend to be more expensive than software-defined storage (SDS) or cloud-based solutions. Their superior performance and scalability make them ideal for various data center uses.
If your database is large, SANs may be necessary due to their faster I/O processing speeds and low latency. This is especially true in environments with transactional data stored. NAS can also serve these databases; however, their slower I/O rates and higher latency than SANs make them unsuitable for SAN applications.
Furthermore, SANs tend to be more costly than NASs due to the additional hardware requirements, such as switches and network cards. Furthermore, setting up a SAN can be more complicated, making it not suitable for everyone.
Another factor that could influence the cost of a SAN is its protocols. Four primary SAN protocols exist FCP, iSCSI, FCoE and FC-NVMe. Each routes SCSI commands over an individual interface and these must be utilized when serving data through SANs.
Fibre Channel over Ethernet, or FCoE for short, is a standard-based SAN protocol that encapsulates an SCSI command into an Ethernet frame and transports it over an Ethernet network. This makes it simpler to install and administer than older protocols like iSCSI.
If you require access to flash storage, nonvolatile memory express over fibre channel (NVMe) is the better option. NVMe provides significant performance improvements over AHCI and can support up to tens of thousands of parallel queues.
SANs are more reliable than NAS systems due to the absence of a single point of failure, making them ideal for businesses that rely on mission-critical data. Furthermore, SANs can be employed for backups and virtualized environments that need fast scalable storage.