A SAN, or Storage Area Network, is a dedicated network system that provides access to consolidated, high speed and redundant data storage. SANs are primarily used to make storage devices, such as disk arrays, tape libraries and optical jukeboxes, accessible to high availability servers in order for the devices to appear as if they are directly attached to the operating system.

A SAN is typically composed of three (3) elements: disk drive arrays, switches, and cabling.

The switches and storage system within the SAN must be designed to support the right bandwidth level, handling peak data activities at a satisfactory level.

SAN is not to be confused with NAS, or a Network Attached Storage, as a SAN is much more reliable than a NAS with much better data transfer rates. The differences between the two mainly lie in the fact that a SAN lives on a dedicated network to provide the servers with storage that appears directly attached, while a NAS device lives on your normal network to provide storage to multiple systems throughout the network.

There are three different types of SANs:

  • Virtual SANs: A virtual storage network, or a VSAN, is a logical partition that allows traffic to be isolated within specific portions of a storage area network. VSANs are hardware-agnostic.
  • Unified SANs: Unified SANs, also referred to as unified storage or multiprotocol storage, handles the storage by simultaneously storing file data and handling the input/output of enterprise applications. Unified SANs usually have the same level of reliability as dedicated file and block storage systems and can utilize additional features such as storage snapshots and replication.
  • Converged SANs: Since SANs are normally separate from Ethernet networks, Converged SANs actually use a common network infrastructure for network and SAN traffic to eliminate redundant infrastructure as well as to reduce cost and complexity. This can result in better backup, snapshots, and scaling abilities.

Why might you want to implement a SAN?

  • Improved Backup and Disaster Recovery Settings: Using a SAN, you can transfer data from one storage device to another without having to interact with a server, which speeds up the backup process and eliminates the need for using server CPU cycles for backup.
  • High Availability: Clustered servers can share SAN storage using Multi-Path Input/Output (MPIO) to prevent downtime caused by server hardware failure
  • Scalability: Additional capacity can be added as required to SANs as your business grows.
  • Simplifies Management Tasks: SANs can simplify some management tasks which frees up time for other tasks.
  • Boot Servers from SAN: Servers can boot directly from a SAN, which can reduce the time and work involved in replacing a server.

Need help setting up a SAN or want to know how SAN can help your business? Give us a call today at (877) 85-RHINO!

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