Storage area networks have become increasingly popular for enterprises with virtual environments and intensive data backup procedures. However, implementing a SAN requires both financial and personnel investment.
To ensure that your SAN storage appliance meets your organization’s workload and usage demands, consider factors like the types of data stored and the rate at which it grows. These will help you determine the appropriate CPU and system memory specifications.
With data being created and stored at record rates, organizations must ensure they can access files quickly and reliably. SAN storage provides centralized storage accessible to multiple servers simultaneously, delivering streamlined data access and enhancing application performance.
SANs also reduce network traffic bottlenecks by separating storage from server networks. As a result, storage traffic doesn’t compete with the LAN bandwidth required by servers and applications, reducing latency and accelerating file availability. The purpose of the SAN fabric is to improve storage availability and reliability by removing single points of failure and, when practical, utilizing redundant connections.
Organizations must carefully consider the data types stored and the expected rate at which data grows when determining capacity requirements for their SAN storage solutions. This information will help them determine the best hardware specifications for their SAN storage appliances, including CPU and system memory specifications. Additionally, SANs are highly scalable, allowing organizations to add additional storage devices without disrupting operations. This helps them scale their growth over time, lowering future SAN storage pricing.
A SAN offers the ability to store, protect, and access data from a separate network. This allows storage to operate at full performance without requiring access to the host servers over a local area network (LAN). This alleviates stress on the LAN and improves the overall data availability, particularly in time-sensitive applications like video editing.
A centrally managed SAN enables administrators to optimize storage capacity through RAID and data deduplication technologies. These capabilities allow organizations to eliminate “forgotten” disks on underutilized servers.
In addition, a SAN is more reliable than direct-attached storage. A SAN’s network fabric and arrays enable multiple paths to the same storage, so even a hardware failure won’t leave data inaccessible to enterprise workloads.
Lastly, SANs use less power than individual storage devices, reducing energy consumption and cooling costs in the data center. Less power usage also extends the lifespan of storage hardware, further lowering capital expenses. A SAN can provide the functionality and scalability needed to meet advanced enterprise storage requirements in an increasingly cloud-centric world.
The SAN architecture removes storage from the servers and centralizes it for easier access, management, and protection. It also optimizes performance by separating it from the LAN in its network. This prevents SAN traffic from competing with other data traffic on the traditional LAN for bandwidth and reduces latency by providing block-level access to files.
SAN hardware typically requires Fibre Channel (FC) host bus adapters, fiber cables and switches, disk arrays with FC connections, and a specialized SAN switch for connecting these components. A SAN solution can be expensive to implement and require advanced IT skills.
More recently, vendors have developed more cost-effective SAN solutions that are less expensive to purchase and more straightforward to manage. These include hybrid and all-flash arrays that combine hard drives and SSDs into a single system. These systems often provide the same features as more complex SAN hardware, including RAID technology, local and remote file system backups, and storage tiering and deduplication. They are also more robust, offering high availability and performance comparable to more advanced SAN equipment.
SAN storage requires a separate network infrastructure with switches, routers, cables, and other equipment to interconnect servers and storage devices. This adds to upfront expenses, as well as ongoing operational costs.
SAN storage vendors build redundancy into their device design and fabric architecture to maximize performance and reliability. This minimizes single points of failure and enables the device to continue operating even when multiple connections between it and other storage components fail.
When evaluating SAN storage devices, assess their capabilities, including supported RAID levels, snapshot and replication features, and data integrity measures. In addition, determine whether they offer low-latency and hybrid cloud tiering support, as these features help ensure consistent performance levels under heavy data loads.
Also, consider if a device supports the protocols used in your organization’s network, as these can impact data transfer speed and reliability. For example, look for SAN storage devices that support Fibre Channel (FC) or iSCSI protocol stacks for optimal connectivity and data transfer speeds. Finally, scalability is another factor to consider. Ensure the device can accommodate data storage requirements and scale to meet future growth demands.
Maintenance and Support
The business world depends on reliable access to data. IT trends such as cloud computing, digitization, and server consolidation place higher demands on the technology that manages, transports, and backs up this critical information. To accommodate these increased workloads, many organizations deploy SAN storage solutions, which enable users to easily access large volumes of data from multiple servers without the performance bottlenecks that typically plague local disk drives (LDDs).
In addition to high speed and availability, a traditional SAN is built around a network fabric that interconnects all host servers and storage devices. The SAN’s connectivity can be based on Fibre Channel (FC) for top performance or Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI), which is less expensive and supports a broader range of server platforms.
The CPU and system memory specifications of a SAN storage appliance have a significant impact on its performance. Determine the system’s workload and usage to identify the appropriate specification levels. Additionally, consider a convergence solution that provides storage, computing, and networking resources in a single, optimized package for cost-effectiveness and ease of management.