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What is SAN and How can it Benefit Your Company

What Is A SAN?

SAN (or Storage Area Network) is a high-speed network with block-level access to data storage. It is the most common storage networking architecture and is used by enterprises for business-critical applications (click here for an overview of storage networking architectures). It provides high throughput and low latency. A SAN is composed of hosts, switches, storage elements, and storage devices that are connected by different technologies, topologies, and protocols. To a host, a SAN presents storage devices in a way that they appear to be locally attached by using various forms of virtualization. SANs are commonly based on Fibre Channel (FC) technology that utilizes the Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) for open systems and proprietary variants for mainframes. In addition, the use of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) makes it possible to move FC traffic onto a single cable across existing high-speed Ethernet infrastructures, converged storage, and IP protocols.

What Are SANs Used For?

There are several main functions a SAN is used for. Listed below are a few of them.

  • Boost application performance utilizing things like off-load storage functions and segregate networks.
  • Increase application availability
  • Improve storage utilization
  • Increase data protection and security
  • Consolidate storage resources
  • Assist in Business Continuity Management (BCM) activities.

Types Of SANs

Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) : One of the most common types of SANs, accounting for 70% to 80% of the total number. It is designed to carry serial SCSI-3 data over optical fiber networks. For this variant, the throughput ranges from 100MB/s to 1.6 GB/s with a distance stretching from 500 meters (1640.42 ft) to 10 kilometers (6.21 miles). The Internet Small Computer System Interface protocol (iSCSI) is utilized in approximately 10% to 15% of all SANs. It transports block-level between the iSCSI initiator on a server and an iSCSI target on the storage device. iSCSI encapsulates SCSI commands inside an Ethernet frame and then uses an IP Ethernet network for transport.Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE): FCoE is used in less than 5% of all SANs. It 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 a host controller interface designed to increase the transfer of data. It is an interface protocol for accessing flash storage via a PCI Express (PCIe) bus. NVMe supports thousands of parallel queues. Each of these queues supports thousands of concurrent commands.

Benefits Of Choosing A SAN

Improved Disk UtilizationPerhaps the greatest advantage of a SAN is its improved disk utilization. Direct attached storage (DAS) utilizes around 30% of the disk while SAN improves on that with around 80%. Greater utilization decreases the number of disks and drives needed, reducing the entire cost associated with storage devices and systems.Less Backup TimeSANs are the best solution whenever a company is faced with extensive backup time within an enterprise or data storage environment. SANs have a unique ability to duplicate data almost instantly, making them ideal for data backup.Centralized BackupBlock level, incremental backups, and streamlined IT system administrator responsibilities are a few special features provided by SAN to improve the backup process.Disaster RecoverySAN provides the capability to connect distant locations to secondary storage arrays. This helps protect data if a localized disaster destroys local data storage devices. When data is duplicated with SAN, it enables faster recovery for an organization; the data is preserved offsite and just needs to be transferred back over to the main location.RedundancySimilar to the above-mentioned disaster recovery advantage, SAN also protects data through local redundancy. A redundant array of disks is used by SAN and is viewed as a local volume from the servers that are attached to it. This allows for high availability with fast disk input/output performance when compared to a Network Area Storage (NAS). SAN’s are among the common virtualization clusters giving out centralized access to databases that are heavily input/output intensive.High-Speed Disk TechnologiesSAN provides data retrieval at speeds surpassing 5 Gbps.


SAN is an excellent choice for many IT departments spanning many industries. The benefits of SAN systems are only offset by the price of the enterprise hardware required to build them. thomastech provides that enterprise hardware to meet your IT environment’s needs at an attractive price, slashing your costs. Beyond providing IT systems and hardware, thomastech further empowers IT departments to keep data moving by offering support and maintenance services. To learn more about the advantages of partnering with thomastech, click the free consultation button at the top or call us at (330) 225-311. Around the globe, other IT departments are using thomastech’s services and are experiencing simpler contracts, faster resolutions, reduced costs, and more uptime. Start today.

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