SANs offer several compelling benefits to organizations. Typically, they are used to support mission-critical workloads.
Using a SAN helps ensure that servers have access to the right amount of storage at all times, making it easier to keep up with data growth and reduce the need for costly disk upgrades. The decentralized nature of a SAN network makes it easy to add and remove storage resources without interrupting the servers, allowing you to easily scale your infrastructure as needed.
A SAN uses multiple network layers to connect disk arrays, switches and servers. Typically, these network connections use fibre channel or InfiniBand technology to transfer data at speeds of over 5 Gbps.
Servers use host bus adapters (HBAs), separate network adapters dedicated to SAN access, to communicate with the SAN and its storage resources. This allows the workload to interact with the SAN as if it were a local hard drive on the server.
The fabric layer is a cabling and networking layer that consists of SAN switches, gateways, routers and protocol bridges. The fabric offers increased redundancy over a regular network by providing multiple alternate pathways from hosts to storage across the SAN.
SANs are able to provide disaster-recovery capabilities. Whether from a cyber attack or natural disaster, businesses need to be able to recover critical data quickly and efficiently.
SANs are best for large-scale deployments, but they can be expensive and require skilled IT staff to set up, maintain and manage. These factors can impact ROI over the long term.