What is Storage Area Network (SAN) and Why You Should Use One

Businesses looking to either set up or expand upon their existing storage solutions may wish to strongly consider using a Storage Area Network (SAN). When it comes to SANs, there are many options that fit the needs of almost any business. Using a SAN can be a highly effective way to back up data quickly, recover from those daunting “server down” situations, and improve your company’s disk utilization. They can also provide a great way to save money in the long run, as the stability they provide decreases storage space, power consumption and manpower.

First Things First, What is a SAN?

Simply put, a SAN is a type of dedicated high speed Local Area Network (LAN) designed to handle significant data transfers, as well as the bulk storage of digital information. SANs increase the availability of data by letting any servers on a given network communicate with any storage devices on the SAN. These networks can grant access to an optical disk, an All-Flash Array (AFA), or Hybrid Flash Array.

To accurately describe & understand a SAN, it’s helpful to first know what a Network-Attached Storage (NAS) setup is. Most users are familiar with the use of NAS, if not by name, at least in function. A NAS is used when the files and the storage system that organizes the files are located on the same remote server. If you remote into a server to use an application, and save files on that same server, you’re using a NAS setup.

Conversely, a SAN stores the filing system (a type of librarian for electronic data, more or less) on the local machine, but stores the actual data on the remote server. This saves significant storage space on the local machine, while still allowing data to be retrieved extremely quickly when accessed.

Now that you have a basic understanding of what a SAN is, let’s take a look at some of their advantages.

A SAN Centralizes and Streamlines Your Physical Storage

Using a Storage Area Network places all physical mass storage devices in one centralized location, making them readily accessible for all users connected to the network. This includes the optical disks and AFAs mentioned above. SANs are incredibly scalable, additional storage can be added to the network whenever necessary, allowing for greater flexibility when planning network expansion.

In more technical terms:

A SAN makes physical storage capacity a single, scalable resource and allows the flexible allocation of virtualized storage volumes. Centralization of data storage into a single pool allows storage resources and server resources to grow independently, and allows storage to be dynamically assigned from the pool. The SAN can manage backup tasks that were a huge administrative and computer-resource burden under old storage architectures.

Effective use of a SAN gives greater control over storage resources, allowing you to scale your operation as you see fit, all while delivering exceptional performance.

Using a SAN Lowers Costs and Protects Investments

Any business can benefit from the long term savings that a SAN has to offer, both financially and in terms of stability. Though at first glance the cost of implementing a SAN may seem daunting, a SAN typically pays for itself in 12 to 18 months. Here’s a few ways a SAN can help save you money and protect your data.

  • Maintenance levels are significantly lower than competing network storage solutions. Less man-hours assigned to server maintenance = Reduced Expenses.
  • SANs draw less power than other comparable equipment, cutting back on your energy bill.
  • SANs reduce business risks. They allow for rapid DR (disaster recovery), decreasing losses from down-time.
  • Existing network tech is preserved. SANs can be implemented alongside your “old” setup, maximizing operational efficiency.

See What QSAN Has to Offer

If you’re looking for a reliable, cost effective way to store your data that also enhances your system performance, take a look at the solutions QSAN has to offer. SANs are a terrific way to take care of your business, offering cost effecting storage in a way that protects your data while saving you money.

Riabov, Vladimir. (2007). Storage Area Networks Fundamentals. 189-204.  Available from:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273830919_Storage_Area_Networks_Fundamentals

Rouse, Margaret. (2018). Storage Area Network (SAN). Available from:

https://searchstorage.techtarget.com/definition/storage-area-network-SAN