Understanding Storage Area Networks

Storage is an essential factor in this age of digital technology. Many businesses have adopted the trend of storing data in a storage area network. This dedicated network comprising several storage devices allows multiple computers and servers to access shared storage. As a result, organisations can manage storage from a central place and apply data protection, security, and disaster recovery standards.

What Is The Application Of SANs?

When using SANs, storage is available to computers on a network. SAN relieves individual servers of handling storage and instead centralises this responsibility.

You can improve storage traffic performance when you connect storage to servers with a different network than the traditional LAN. This is because traffic doesn't have to share LAN bandwidth with workloads and servers.

Why Should Organisations Use SANs?

The following are benefits that organisations stand to gain by adopting SANs for their storage needs.

1. High Disk Optimisation

One of the main benefits of using a SAN is improved disk utilisation. While Direct Attached Storage (DAS) uses 30% of your hard disk, SAN utilises 80%. When there is greater utilisation of hard disk space, there is a decreased demand for disks and hard drives. Ultimately, this reduces the cost of storage devices.

2. Less Backup Time

If you find your company spending a lot of time to backup information, then you are better off with SANs. These networks can copy data almost instantly, making them suitable for data backup.

3. Centralised Backup

Another benefit of SANs is a centralised backup. Some features that enable SANs to provide centralised backup include streamlined IT system administrator responsibilities and incremental backups.

4. Disaster Recovery

With a SAN, you can link remote locations to secondary storage arrays. This is an essential feature in case of localised disasters. For example, if a localised disaster wipes away data in a storage device, a company can recover by using data on secondary storage arrays. Data duplicated with SAN allows for faster recovery for an organisation. This data is stored offsite and must only be transferred to the primary location.

5. Redundancy

SAN also protects your information through local redundancy. SAN uses a redundant array of disks, allowing high availability with faster input and output performance than a Network Area Storage.

How Does SAN Storage Work?

A SAN consists of cabling, host bus adapters, and switches attached to servers and storage arrays. SANs connect servers to logical disk units and block storage from several shared storage systems using high-speed architecture.

A SAN has three layers: the host, the fabric, and the storage. Servers linked to the SAN act as hosts for a business' workloads that require access to storage, such as databases. Host bus adapters are used by the hosts to connect to the server's operating system.

The fabric layer consists of cabling and network devices that form the network system that connects SAN hosts with storage. The networking devices include protocol bridges, routers, gateways, and switches.

The fabric layer provides multiple alternative pathways for hosts to access storage. Therefore, if there is a delay on one path, the SAN can switch to another path for communication.

The storage consists of several storage devices. These include hard disk drives (HDDs), tape drives, CDs, DVDs, and SSDs. You can increase storage capacity by classifying storage devices into RAID groups.

SAN technology can use multiple protocols to enable the communication of the layers, applications, and operating systems. The two main protocols are the Fiber Channel Protocol (FCP) and the Internet Small Computing System Interface (iSCSI). The former is based on Fiber Channel (FC) technology, whereas the latter is a cheaper alternative to FC and is mainly used by small and medium-sized organisations.

When Should You Use SAN Storage?

The prominent use cases for SAN storage are database management and virtualisation. First, SANs are known for fast input and out processing speeds. Furthermore, they come with low latency, which is vital for large organisations with high-speed transactional environments. Such databases have critical data that needs high performance and accessibility.

Because Fiber Channel technology comes with speeds as high as 128 GBPs, SANs can satisfy company databases' latency and throughput requirements. SANs provide improved data management through parallel processing, RAID, and hot-swappable drives.

SANs can also be used for large-scale high-performance virtualisation to work with various operating systems and applications. This technology allows you to transfer multiple input and output streams between virtual machines and virtualisation hosts.

Moreover, SANs have the flexibility and scalability to fit in a virtual environment. Also, SANs come with reliable infrastructure that reduces the likelihood of failures that result in application outages in virtualised environments.

Wrapping It Up

It is worth noting that the SAN has made $17.82 billion in the past years. North America has enjoyed a significant market share, with America and Canada also adopting this technology. SAN provides an effective system for interconnecting computers and servers. This networking system is lauded for faster data accessibility and management. SAN has also proven to reduce administrative workloads through the rapid resolution of disasters and efficient data recovery solutions like advanced backup facilities.