Storage Area Network (SAN) Basics

29th May, 2019 by

The amount of data generated each day is truly mind-blowing. According to Forbes, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created each day of the calendar year, with 3.7 billion humans currently using the internet. On average, Google processes 40,000 searches every second. With so much data flying around the web, administrators are having to find new ways of storing it all. Welcome Storage Area Networks, or SANs.

What are SANs?

Storage Area Networks are a combination of technologies that work together to create a dedicated network layer that multiple servers can access. Each server uses a Host Bus Adapter (HBA) that is used to access the storage network. Dozens of disks are used to provide size and scalability for a data storage solution.  

Who is using SANs?

SANs are typically used by anyone who needs efficient and flexible storage shared between multiple servers in a data center. SANs avoid the need to purchase larger, more expensive servers, and allow users to scale up or down depending on their needs. A SAN provides storage locally within a data center but also shares data across multiple servers, meaning that SAN is used as one resource to meet the needs of the servers collectively.

Which problems do SANs solve?

Administrators love SANs because they are more efficient and cost-effective than the alternatives. The collective storage needs for multiple servers can be pooled by a SAN and allocated across the servers as requested to meet storage needs.

Also, administrators can manage SANs remotely, meaning they do not need to be physically present to move disks to accommodate storage requirements. If additional storage needs to be added to the pool, it can be added remotely when necessary. Any resources not currently utilized by the servers automatically returns to the pool to await the next server request.

Thirdly, SANs also solve physical server size issues. Disk storage will usually increase the overall server size. However, SAN removes this issue because storage is located outside of the server, and therefore does not affect a server’s physical size.

Reasons to consider a SAN:

Security

Because SANs are a separate device with their own network to transfer data, they can only be accessed by the servers they are serving which adds an additional layer of data security.

Cost

SANs save server cost and rack space by allocating all necessary storage space outside of the servers.

Disaster Recovery

SAN RAID offers greater redundancy as they can be allocated or striped across a wider number of available disks while also maintaining the ability to copy or backup the SAN.

Speed & Performance

The server cards that access the SAN ensure that transfers occur at the fastest speed possible by accessing many disks for writing and reading, thereby increasing speed and performance.

Redundancy

By writing data to multiple disks, failures have very little impact on the overall SAN performance, especially when failovers and backups are created for additional redundancy. To learn more about how a SAN can increase your hosting solution productivity, reach out to our expert sales team today at 100TB.com.

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