According to Forbes, 35 zettabytes (35 trillion gigabytes) of data are predicted to be created in 2020. So, where is all that data going to be stored? How will you store large amounts of data that is also easily accessible?
If you’re a business owner, you must’ve thought about the data your business will generate or use, and now you are looking into flexible storage solutions.
A Storage Area Network (SAN) is a high-performance, high-speed network of storage devices that allows access to consolidated, block-level storage. Multiple client devices can access it, and it usually appears to the client OS as a disk. SAN storage separates the storage system from the rest of the local area network (LAN). This way, they improve application performance, data protection, and disaster recovery if needed.
SAN storage provides a high-speed infrastructure connecting servers to their logical disk units. A logical disk unit is an array of blocks allocated from a pool of storage units that are presented to the server as a logical disk. Therefore, when connecting to a SAN from a LAN or a server, the SAN actually appears like a local disk. It does that in a way that any client device can store data on the logical unit, as it would on any local type of storage device. A well-designed and distributed SAN can withstand multiple device or component failures, keeping the data safe.
As already mentioned, storage area networks are usually physically separated from the rest of the LAN, and can span multiple sites. They’re composed of SAN switches, hosts, and storage devices that are connected internally through a variety of SAN technologies.
The five advantages of system area networks are:
Here are three of the most common SAN protocols used:
Storage area networks have their own local file systems that enable the servers to partition and format the blocks to use as the local storage units they appear as. Storage area networks are used as support for performance-sensitive applications such as:
Regarding the hardware, HDDs are being replaced, or combined with SSDs, thus creating hybrid arrays, as well as all-flash SANs.
Network attached storage (NAS) is a network-based storage solution. NAS storage are methods of managing storage centrally, and sharing that storage with multiple servers. Unlike SAN, which uses Ethernet and FC, NAS uses Ethernet. Additionally, NAS focuses on ease-of-use, scalability, lower cost of ownership, and manageability. Unlike SAN, NAS storage controllers partition the storage. This makes a NAS server look like any other file server to the client server connected to it. While SAN stores data at the block level, NAS accesses it as files. Therefore, it’s usually associated with unstructured data, such as images or video content, while SAN usually handles structured workloads like databases. Hybrid and all-flash NAS hardware is also available due to the impact flash storage has had on storage mediums.
Here are the two most commonly used NAS protocols:
|Usually more expensive||Less expensive|
|High-speed connections using the Fibre channel||Speed is dependent on the local Ethernet network|
|Typically used in enterprise and professional environments||Typically used in homes or small to medium sized businesses|
|Requires more administration||Easier to manage|
|Easily scalable||Usually not highly scalable|
|Requires architectural changes||No architectural changes required|
|Redundant functionalities and fault tolerant network||Often have single points of failure|
|Not affected by network traffic bottlenecks||Susceptible to network bottlenecks|
In the end, the choice is yours, depending on the needs of your business, as well as the budget available for storage purposes.
Unified storage, or multiprotocol storage, is another type of network-based storage array. It was created out of desire and need for a single storage platform that would support both block and file storage in one system. Unified storage allows a single system to support FC and iSCSI block storage, as well as file storage protocols like NFS or SMB. Additionally, with systems like these, the same physical storage can be allocated to either SAN or NAS.
Liquid Web’s Storage Area Network (SAN) is a highly scalable and fault-tolerant central network storage cluster for your critical data. It uses fast, low latency Gigabit Ethernet connections to connect to your servers. This allows for sequential, or parallel data transfer, without affecting the performance of the host server.
Other than the SAN solution, we also offer other cloud storage add-ons, such as Cloud Object Storage and Cloud Block Storage.
Whether you’re storing databases or other types of data, a flexible storage space like SAN storage is always a good idea. Network storage is cost-effective, remote, and secured, making it a perfect choice for our increasingly remote workforce of today.