Store It All With Storage Area Network
These characters have a photographic or eidetic memory, which means they can remember images and data in detail even if they see it once. This can be considered a blessing or a curse if you ask us. Don’t believe us?
Take a trip down your memory palace and think of Black Mirror S1E3 “The Entire History of You”. This episode shows a dystopian yet believable future, where everyone has memory implants that record everything you do, see and hear. It stores every memory you encounter. Yet, is that the best thing? #FoodForThought
Do we really need memory implants when our brain can contain up to 2,500,000 GB of data? How did our beautiful mind create solutions for modern-day challenges related to storage?
You know us, we love clever technology and when it comes to creating storage solutions, a Storage Area Network (SAN) might take the cake for genius resolutions. Read on!
If you’re like us and geek on storage solutions, we’re sure you will be familiar with different options for enterprise storage. From on-premises solutions to those that store information in the cloud, storage is a fundamental requirement for any business, right?
If we haven’t mentioned this 39373 times already, let us say it again. Saving your data is of paramount importance! Why? Average downtime costs across all industries are around USD 4,330 to USD 5,600 per hour and how well you store your data has an impact on your business bottom-line. So, what is to be done?
Well, if you are a storage geek like us, you will have heard the name SAN – Storage Area Network. This modern technology is a network of storage devices that can be accessed by multiple servers or computers across the business network.
With modern-tech problems come modern-tech solutions and we bring one solution for you today. Read on to learn all about Storage Area Network (SAN).
What Is A Storage Area Network?
Let us understand how Storage Area Memory came into the picture. Our computer’s memory or its local storage resources might not provide enough storage, storage protection, multiple-user access or speed and performance for enterprise applications. After all, organizations have a ton of data that needs storage, right?
This is where SAN steps in! In simple terms, a Storage Area Network is a specialized, high-speed network that provides network access to storage devices. It is a dedicated network that is tailored to a specific environment — combining servers, storage systems, networking switches, software and services!
Today, most organizations employ some form of SAN in addition to their network-attached storage (NAS) for improved efficiency and better data management.
This entails Storage Area Network Management, aka SAN management, which refers to the collective measures, processes, tools and technologies that enable the operation, administration and maintenance of a Storage Area Network infrastructure. It is generally performed through a central location and usually in the form of a SAN management application or a SAN server. Don’t worry we’ll get into the details later!
Enterprises did not always have options when it came to storage. It was a long journey from storage in Megabytes to now Terabytes. Let’s understand how it all began!
History Of Storage Area Network
How did we get to networking storing anyway? Like everything awesome in the 90s, SAN too took its first steps in this era. Organizations need a storage solution. Users needed various types of components to build a SAN like SAN switches, servers, storage disks, tape libraries, JBODS, etc. So, the price of this technology was very expensive at that time. Let’s see how it progressed:
At first, the users would use HDD (Hard Disk Drives) as the storage disks for storing data in a SAN system. Then SSDs (Solid State Drive) were introduced, about 5 to 25 times faster than a standard HDD, making the technology faster than ever before.
Server virtualizing was huge back in the day. When virtualization technology was introduced, the storage system providers combined the prevalent storage protocols (such as SAN, DAS and NAS) to make a virtual pool of storage with protocols helping users use more than one storage system at once. That is why you will see the virtual SAN system is more prevalent than the traditional SAN nowadays.
Modern Storage Area Networks
Before SAN, users stored data in servers that were connected to disks, thus making scalability an issue due to time and costs. SAN solved that problem with the introduction of the accessibility to block-level data storage. With reduced costs and availability, SAN became the mainstream choice for storage in the 2000s.
Today with the advent of new cloud and hyper-converged technologies, SAN isn’t the only choice for storage solutions, but definitely used across the globe by a majority of enterprises.
Sheldon once said “’ Not knowing is part of the fun.' Was that the motto of your community college?" Lucky for us, we get our facts from TechDogs where knowing things is the fun part!
Let’s dive into how this tech works!
How Does Storage Area Network Work?
What have we learned so far? A Storage Area Network is essentially a network that is intended to connect servers with storage. You can think of it as an extension of the storage bus concept.
The goal of any Storage Area Network is to take storage out of individual servers and locate the storage collectively where the stored resources can be centrally managed and protected.
Essentially, a Storage Area Network comprises three distinct layers: Host, fabric and storage.
The host layer is made up of the servers that are attached to the SAN to run enterprise workloads that require storage.
The fabric layer comprises the cabling and network devices that interconnect the SAN host and storage.
The storage layer consists of several storage devices such as hard disc drives, SSDs, CDs, DVDs and more.
Today's Storage Area Network can create new methods of attaching storage to servers, enabling high availability and performance improvements.
By bypassing traditional network traffic bottlenecks and facilitating direct, high-speed data transfers between servers and storage devices, they make good backups for our ever-so-precious data. However, there are different types of SAN – and lucky for you – we will uncover them today. Read on!
Different Types Of Storage Area Network
Different Storage Networks have different capabilities. You must understand the differences to know what is the best fit for your enterprise. The most common SAN protocols are:
Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP)
Deployed in over 70-80% of the SAN instances, FCP is the most widely used SAN or block protocol. FCP uses Fibre Channel transport protocols with embedded SCSI commands.
Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI)
With approximately 10-15% of the SAN market, iSCSI is the largest SAN or block protocol. iSCSI encapsulates SCSI commands inside an Ethernet frame and then uses an IP Ethernet network for transport.
Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE)
Used in under 5% of the cases, FCoE is similar to iSCSI, since it encapsulates an FC frame inside an Ethernet datagram. Then like iSCSI, it uses an IP Ethernet network for transport.
Non-volatile Memory Express over Fibre Channel (FC-NVMe)
NVMe is an interface protocol for accessing flash storage via a PCI Express (PCIe) bus. Unlike traditional all-flash architectures, which are limited to a single, serial command queue, NVMe supports tens of thousands of parallel queues, each with the ability to support tens of thousands of concurrent commands.
Whilst your enterprise has its options laid out and is considering options, let us take you a step closer to why a Storage Area Network is critical, by putting forward its benefits. Read on!
Benefits Of Having A Storage Area Network
If given a choice, would you buy a phone with 512 GB storage vs. a 64 GB? The answer’s obvious, right? However, additional storage is not the only benefit a SAN offers. Here’s a comprehensive list:
Better Application Performance
The SAN typically uses a separate network fabric for storage, enabling the fabric to boost the performance of applications accessing the data.
A SAN can support extremely large deployments encompassing thousands of SAN host servers and storage devices or even storage interconnected enterprise systems, leading to super scalability.
SAN makes for simpler management, scalability, flexibility and high availability possible with its centralized storage management features.
Remote Data Transfer
SAN also helps protect data from disaster and malicious attacks by making a remote copy of business data.
Storage in SAN exists independently of applications and is accessible through multiple paths for increased reliability, availability and serviceability.
If you aren’t saying “Shut up and take my money!” - wait, let us show what the future of SAN is!
Future Of Storage Area Network
A tech-powered world cannot survive without robust storage solutions!
New solutions that make life easier and pockets happier are always evolving. Today, Storage Area Networks compete with cloud solutions as it is far cheaper to invest in the cloud than SAN hardware and software. However, organizations have plenty of reasons to invest and retain their Storage Area Management such as its privacy, security, compliance and control.
With data volumes exploding and cyberattacks becoming a daily occurrence, SAN vendors are looking to up their security game and fill gaps in storage vulnerabilities. Several key players in the SAN market are expected to concentrate on investing heavily in innovation, research and development practices to offer better solutions for industrial storage applications. SAN will be here to stay in the long run!
Network storage is an important aspect of any company’s health and productivity. With a good storage management solution, small businesses can maximize server performance, simplify data management, back up important data, improve application availability and be prepared in case of disaster.
Although setting up a Storage Area Network can require a significant upfront investment, the payoff is a more secure, organized and accessible network. So, what are you waiting for – get a SAN for storage success!
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