Storage Area Network (SAN): Advantages And Disadvantages

What is Storage Area Network

The term “storage area network” (SAN) is used to describe a computer network that interconnects multiple servers and storage devices to provide data storage capacity or performance. It typically consists of one or more high-speed Fibre Channel or Ethernet switches, attached directly to the storage devices’ I/O ports, as well as specialized storage controllers that manage these connections.

A storage area network (SAN) is a system that shares storage resources. It is a way of connecting multiple storage devices, such as disk drives, tape libraries, and other storage systems, to create one shared pool of storage that can be accessed by all members of the network. 

SANs are often used in businesses that need to store large amounts of data but do not have the budget for a dedicated computer server. They can also be used by small businesses that need to transfer large amounts of data between locations or by individuals who want more secure storage for their files.

The main difference between a SAN and a traditional server is that with a SAN, all of the storage devices are connected via network cables rather than directly to the computer. This allows multiple users to access their portion of the storage simultaneously while still maintaining high levels of security because no one user has access to all parts of the storage at any time.

What is the purpose of SAN?

The main purpose of a SAN is to improve performance and reliability by using redundant paths between different components within the same system. For example, if one drive fails in a RAID array, there will be still available data from another drive; this redundancy allows the data to be recovered from somewhere else on the same array even if only one drive fails at once.

Advantages of SAN 

  • Redundancy

The more drives you have in your SAN, the less chance there is for one drive to fail and prevent access to data. This can be especially useful if your company has multiple offices and needs to ensure that all employees have access to their files regardless of where they are located.

  • Efficiency

Having multiple hard drives connected allows users to share information quickly, which reduces the amount of time it takes for data transfers between servers and clients.

  • Security 

Since all the hard drives are connected in one location, they’re protected from viruses, malware, and other threats by using strong encryption technologies.

  • Shared access

SANs allow multiple computers to share resources over the same physical connection. This reduces costs by allowing you to use less expensive hardware for each server versus buying more specialized hardware for each computer. It also means you don’t have to manage the cables or switches that connect each server.

  • Centralized management

SANs allow you to centrally manage storage resources from one location instead of managing them from multiple locations, which can be difficult and expensive if you have several servers in different locations.

  • Improved disaster recovery planning

Disaster recovery planning is much easier when you have multiple copies of your data stored in different locations. A storage area network provides additional protection against natural disasters, equipment failure, and other events that may cause disruptions in your business operations.

  • Reduced backup time

Backups take longer when using a SAN because they must retrieve files from all the different storage devices on the SAN. However, if you have enough capacity, it may not matter as much because it will take less time than having local backups for every device on the network

You can update existing disks while they’re still being used by other users within the same organization — this is especially useful if you need to move a lot of data from one system to another because it saves time

  • Cost-effective

Storage area networks are cost-effective because they provide a centralized data storage solution. The data center can minimize the use of costly, dedicated hardware and software required to store data.

  • It improves productivity

With a SAN, you can easily access files from any location and use them without having to move them around or copy them over again. For example, if an employee needs access to an important document at his desk but doesn’t have enough space on his hard disk to store it in its entirety, he can simply copy it over instead of having to recreate it at his desk.

Disadvantages of SAN

  • Not all storage devices are supported by SAN

There are many different types of storage devices, including hard drives, tape drives, and optical disks. Some IBM systems support only a few types of storage devices and not others.

  • High cost

SAN systems are expensive to set up and maintain. You will have to pay for the hardware, software, and maintenance costs separately. You may also need to hire specialized technicians to manage the equipment.

  • Difficult for emergencies

In case of an emergency or disaster, it will take longer for you to recover from it if you aren’t able to access your files from anywhere in the world due to the remote location of your data center.

  • Slow performance

The amount of time it takes for your files to get uploaded onto a SAN is usually slower than storing them on a hard drive

  • Maintenance issues

If you don’t know how to maintain a SAN properly, it may become unusable soon after setup.

  • Limited security features

If you don’t have access control for your data on a SAN, anyone can read or modify any file without your knowledge

Types of SAN

1. Fibre Channel Protocol

Fibre Channel is a high-speed serial data link that can transport data at rates up to 1.125 Gbps. It provides the ability to carry multiple independent streams of data between two or more devices, allowing them to work together as one virtual device.

Fibre Channel Protocol is implemented as a set of rules that govern the way multiple devices communicate with each other. These rules are also called standards because they are developed by an organization called the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). The TIA has released Fibre Channel standards in several versions over time.

2. Fibre Channel over Ethernet

Fibre Channel over Ethernet is a new form of connectivity that enables Fibre Channel (FC) storage devices to communicate with networked servers and other storage devices using the same IEEE-1394 FireWire (IEEE-1394F) protocol.

This type of connectivity enables FC storage devices to be connected to servers and other storage devices that are not Fibre Channel switches, such as Ethernet switches, SAN extension units, and general-purpose computers.

3. Internet Small Computer System Interface

The iSCSI protocol allows clients to access remote disks over TCP/IP networks. The concept of iSCSI was developed in 1993 by Intel Corporation as a standard for attaching remote SCSI devices to an Ethernet environment.

4. Non-Volatile Memory Express over Fibre Channel

Non-Volatile Memory Express over Fibre Channel (NVME) is a new storage protocol that enables faster, more efficient data transfers between devices, compared to existing Fibre Channel technology. NVMe allows for the transfer of much larger amounts of data than was possible with previous Fibre Channel protocols.

Frequently asked questions

Why Should I Use SAN?

SANs allow you to store data in multiple locations across the country or around the world, which means lower costs than storing data at just one location.

You can set up your own SAN and then rent out space on it to other organizations that need more space, such as those working in research and development (R&D).

It provides a single view of your data

The SAN can be configured to provide a single view of all the files stored on the shared storage devices. This means that you can reduce the number of systems you need to manage to one central server. Additionally, this single view allows for easy management of all the files in your organization’s IT environment.

Recommended Reading: Types of Computer Networks

In Conclusion

A storage area network is a dedicated network used to store and retrieve data, but it doesn’t just store files. It also stores metadata to aid in retrieving those files, and other useful data beyond the contents of documents. Storage area networks are huge in the technology industry because they make data storage and retrieval fast and flexible; they are scalable, and they help with replication and distribution.

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