Chi Corporation

Storage Area Network (SAN)
Storage Area Network Diagram
SANs simplify storage administration and add flexibility through the virtualization of storage. SAN storage can be provisioned to servers and moved from one server to another without the need to physically move cables or physical machines. Key benefits of a SAN include the ability to boot from the SAN, expand (and even shrink) storage LUNs, change RAID types on the fly, and migrate between classes or tiers of storage seamlessly. Booting from the SAN allows the protection of system data separate from the physical servers accessing and using the data. Establishing a SAN (or advanced DAS system) is a prerequisite for clustering software and clustered applications including VMWare, Virtual Iron, and Microsoft Cluster Services.

Additional benefits of moving to a SAN infrastructure include increased disk utilization (the available storage capacity is shared and storage can be augmented or reallocated easily), reduced data center/rack floor space, reduced power consumption, reduced storage maintenance costs, and improved protection of critical data.

SANs also provide improved data availability enabling data from the common storage pool to me mirrored or replicated over high-speed networks and efficiently migrated. With a SAN it is possible to implement advanced (faster and more efficient) backup schemes including serverless backup. With replication technologies it is possible to replicate data off-site to a DR (Disaster Recovery) location and archive the data at the remote site to tape/optical/other storage media.

Because SAN storage appears as local storage to servers, it uses block storage protocols that are more efficient than file level protocols. With SANs, expanding storage to keep up with data growth is as simple and economical as purchasing a disk array or adding drives to an existing array.

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