The term SAN stands for Storage Area Network and is described as a very high-speed network which interconnects different servers with a shared storage through its switches. Instead of directly connecting the servers with the storage devices separately, shared switches are used in between to utilize the storage devices such disk drives and magnetic tapes efficiently. In case of SAN, solid-state drives or SSDs can also be used as a storage medium. This assembly of storage devices, switches and servers provide a fast data access rate, the huge amount of storage, efficient data retrieval and backup.
Main Components of Storage Area Networks:
SAN is mainly composed of the following three components:
- Fiber Cables
- Host Bus Adapters
These three components help to connect the SAN device with the storage devices and the servers.
Types of Storage Area Networks:
Depending upon the technology used storage area networks can be divided into the following three categories:
- Virtual SAN- It is a software-defined storage that is used along with a hypervisor like VMware and provides a virtual storage area network.
- Unified SAN- In this type of SAN, the storage devices appear to the server as one single unified storage location rather than separate independent devices.
- Converged SAN- Usually a storage area network is a separate network other than the local area network. However, in the case of converged SAN, a common network is shared for SAN traffic as well as for local traffic. This is done to reduce the complexity that will otherwise arise if we use two separate networks. Moreover, it also reduces the cost as the already existing hardware network infrastructure will be utilized and no additional external costs will incur.
Why Storage Area Networks are used?
A question often arises in our minds that when storage devices are available, then what is the need of having a storage area network. The answer to this question is given in the bullets below:
- Storage area networks improve the application availability, as multiple paths are available for the data to travel.
- Storage area networks enhance the performance of different applications since segregated storage is available to them.
- Storage area networks utilize the storage devices efficiently and effectively by centrally managing them through their switches.
Benefits of Storage Area Networks:
Storage area networks provide the following benefits:
- SAN provides a pool of data storage that can be centrally managed.
- This pool of storage resources can be allocated to the appropriate servers whenever they need it.
- SANs are very much scalable as their capacity can be increased at any time.
- SAN provides storage virtualization as a single server is no longer connected with a single storage device rather it is connected to a pool of storage resources.
- Since high-speed disks are mostly used as a storage medium in SAN, so data retrieval rate is very fast.
- SAN provides a centralized backup facility so you do not need to access each and every storage device separately in order to store or retrieve your data.
- SAN also provides an automatic failure protection that is if any server fails, SAN would automatically know that now it has to reroute that particular server’s traffic.
StarWind Virtual Storage Area Network:
StarWind has also built a very good infrastructure for Virtual Storage Area Networks. StarWind VSAN eliminates the need of actual physical storage devices by providing a virtual storage location implemented over a hypervisor. The main benefits of StarWind VSAN are listed below:
- Simplicity- StarWind VSAN does not require any special management skill sets to operate it. Rather a typical network administrator can handle it very easily.
- Low Cost- As no external hardware data storage devices are required, so this cost is eliminated.
- Performance and Features- Performance of StarWind VSAN is optimized because of it’s easy to use features that do need any special management knowledge.