Storage Area Networks


A storage area network (SAN) is a high-speed, fibre channel, special-purpose network that interconnects different kinds of data storage devices (such as disk arrays, tape libraries, and optical jukeboxes) with associated data servers, in such a way that the devices appear as locally attached to the operating system.  Typically, a storage area network is part of the overall network of computing resources for an enterprise. A storage area network is usually clustered in close proximity to other computing resources but may also extend to remote locations for backup and archival storage.

Common uses of a SAN include provision of transactionally accessed data that require high-speed block-level access to the hard drives such as email servers, databases, and high usage file servers.
For over a decade, the Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) has provided storage interconnectivity for Local Area Networks (LANs).

Effective in its time, SCSI is struggling to cope in the face of the data explosion. Bandwidth limitations, lack of scalability, poor integration and expense, all combine to place severe limitations on SCSI servers.

In response to this, the Storage Area Network (SAN) has been developed. SAN combines the latest concepts in the storage, backup, and management of data across a variety of media. SAN is a network separated from your LAN – allowing performance gains yet retaining and enhancing availability.

Storage Area Network (SAN) offers a multitude of benefits to existing server infrastructures. They include:

  • improved bandwidth – operation at gigabaud speeds, many times faster than the fastest SCSI server can operate
  • scalability – unlike its SCSI counterpart, the capacity of a SAN can expand quickly to meet your storage requirements
  • availability & fault tolerance – ensuring mission-critical data is required as needed
  • integration – management of a SAN is simple, whilst retaining powerful management options
  • lowered costs – the SAN offers many cost benefits over the traditional SCSI interface, including the ability to add capacity cost effectively

Bandwidth and Storage Area Network

Bandwidth is the capacity of your network to deliver data to its users. A network with a high bandwidth will be able to serve data to many users simultaneously. Where bandwidth is insufficient to cope with this demand, downtime will be experienced.

Storage Area Network (SAN) uses the latest Fibre Channel technology to produce stunning bandwidth gains over the old SCSI interface. Fibre Channel can also operate at distances up to 10km with only slight performance loss. Compare this to the existing architecture, which has severe performance degradation at 100m.

By operating as a self-contained network, a SAN also removes performance bottlenecks from the LAN. As a SAN focuses solely on the management and provision of data, availability and fault tolerance are also excellent.

Scalability and Storage Area Networks

Scalability is the ability of your system to respond to unexpected and predicted growth in data volumes and provision of that data.

Storage Area Network (SAN) eliminates one of the greatest flaws of the SCSI interface – lack of scalability. Increasing capacity on servers operating a SCSI architecture is complicated, time consuming and expensive. In the face of the rapid data growth, this is simply unacceptable.

The open nature of a SAN allows for easy addition of extra capacity. Storage capacity can be quickly added to the SAN – simply and cost effectively. A SAN can grow with your business.

Integration of a Storage Area Network Solution

Prior to Storage Area Network (SAN), the management of a variety of storage and backup media has been complicated. Whether hard drives, tape drives, or indeed any other media – it can be incorporated into a SAN.

Using powerful, yet easy-to-use management software, accessing data from a SAN is a simple process. To the end user, the data appears on a shared network drive – which can have all the security and accessibility options you would normally expect.

The modular nature of the SAN means that integrating components is easily accomplished.

Summary

The Storage Area Network (SAN) is driving down the cost of storing data, eliminating the need for costly SCSI systems. A network dedicated to your storage requirements; it offers significant gains in bandwidth, scalability, integration and stability.

Combined with sophisticated management and end user software, the running of a SAN is easy – yet still offers full control.

Why not discuss this exciting technology with NAS today. We can explain in detail how a Storage Area Network solution will enhance your business and provide a cost effective solution that incorporates expandability.