Definition: Storage area network is abbreviated as SAN. SAN is a network which is designed to attach computer storage devices such as disk array controllers and tape libraries to servers. SAN network can be accessed by multiple computers. It is a secure and high-speed data network. It is also known as SAN storage, SAN network, etc.
We assemble the storage area network by using three principal components:
• Host bus adapters
We attach the switches to storage arrays and servers. Generally, all storage arrays were hard disk drives but nowadays flash solid-state drives are used.
A storage area network is most commonly used for:
• For improving the availability of applications
• For enhancing the performance of applications like off-loading storage functions.
• For increasing the utilization of storage and its effectiveness which include consolidating storage resources, tiered storage, etc.
• For improving security and data protection
• For organizing Business Continuity Management activities.
Types of SAN (Storage area network)
The most commonly used SAN protocols are as follows:
• Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP): it is the most widely used SAN protocol. It makes use of Fibre Channel transport protocol which is embedded with the SCSI commands. This protocol is deployed in 70 to 80% of the total SAN market.
• Internet Small Computer System Interface: It is the another most common type of SAN protocol which is used in the SAN market. It is deployed in 10 to 15% of the total SAN market. This protocol encapsulates with the SCSI command inside an Ethernet frame. It also makes use of an IP Ethernet network for transport purpose.
• Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE): it is deployed in less than 5% of the SAN market. It is somewhere similar to iSCSI as it also encapsulated with SCSI command inside an Ethernet frame.
Similarly, it also makes use of IP Ethernet network for transport.
• Non-Volatile Memory Express over Fibre Channel (FC-NVMe): it is an interface protocol. We make use of this protocol for accessing the flash storage. We can access this flash storage via PCI Express (PCIe) bus. It supports tens of thousands of parallel queues. Each queue can help tens of thousands of concurrent commands.
SAN Use Cases
We deploy the storage area network in support of business-critical, performance-sensitive applications which are illustrated as below:
• Oracle databases: Oracle databases are business-critical. It requires high performance and availability.
• Large virtualization deployments using VMware, KVM, or Microsoft Hyper-V: This kind of environments extend to thousands of virtual machines. These machines run a broad range of operating system and applications. It has different performance requirements. The large virtual environments may concentrate on many forms.
• SAP or other massive ERP or CRM environments: San architectures are ideal for customer resource management workloads and enterprise resource planning.
• Microsoft SQL server databases: MS SQL Server database similar to Oracle database stores the most valuable data of the enterprises. So, they also require high performance and availability.
• Large virtual desktop infrastructures (VDIs): it serves virtual desktops to large numbers. By doing the centralization of virtual desktops, the data protection and data security can be easily managed by the organizations.
Advantages of SAN
• Storage virtualization: In this, the capacity of the server is not linked to the single storage devices. Now we can make use of large and consolidated storage pools for software applications.
• High-speed disk technologies: we can consider FC (Fiber Channel) as an example for this. FC is a network that offers speed for retrieval of data is more than 5 Gbps. In this, we can directly transfer the data from the source device to the target device such that there is either decidedly less or no intervention of servers. Also, storage-to-storage data transfer is also available.
• Centralized backup: it contains advanced backup features which includes block level and incremental backups, streamline IT system administrator responsibilities, etc., In this, the backup of data is stored on local disks instead of multiple disks.
• Dynamic Failover Protection: it provides continuous network operation. Suppose if our system fails in between, or some other maintenance problem occurs due to which it enables built-in redundancy and automatic rerouting of traffic, even then our operation will work.