What is Storage Area Network (SAN) in Computer Network?

SAN stands for Storage Area Network. This is a network of storage devices that can be accessed by multiple servers or computers, providing a shared pool of storage space. Each computer on the web can access the SAN storage as though they were local disks connected directly to the computer.

A SAN consists of interconnected hosts, switches and storage devices. The components can be connected using a variety of protocols. Fibre Channel is the original transport protocol of choice. Another option is Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), which lets organizations move Fibre Channel traffic across existing high-speed Ethernet, converging storage and IP protocols onto a single infrastructure.

SANs are frequently dependent on Fibre Channel (FC) technology that uses the Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) for open systems and proprietary variants for administration. It also facilitates Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) creates it possible to transfer FC traffic across current high-speed Ethernet infrastructures and concentrate storage and IP protocols onto an individual cable.

There are other technologies such as Internet Small Computing System Interface (iSCSI), generally used in small and medium-sized organizations as a less costly alternative to FC, and InfiniBand, generally used in high-execution computing environments, can also be used. It is possible to use gateways to transfer information between various SAN technologies.

SANs are typically used to centralize the storage of data in an enterprise, which simplifies administration and backup of the data. SANs are often located near legacy mainframe computing environments but are gaining importance in distributed client/server environments as well.

SANs are also used as remote storage and archival facilities connected to networks by high-speed Synchronous Optical Network (SONET) or OC-3 connections.

SANs are specifically useful in backup and disaster recovery environments. Within a SAN, data can be moved from one storage appliance to another without communicating with a server. This speeds up the backup process and removes the requirement to use server CPU cycles for backup.

SANs use high-speed Fibre Channel technology or various networking protocols that enable the networks to cover a larger geographic location. That creates it more applicable for companies to save their backup information in remote areas.


The advantages of SAN are as follows −

  • Storage Virtualization − Server capacity is no longer linked to single storage devices, as large and consolidated storage pools are now available for software applications.

  • High-Speed Disk Technologies − An example is FC, which offers data retrieval speeds that exceed 5 Gbps. Storage-to-storage data transfer is also available via direct data transmission from the source to the target device with minimal or no server intervention.

  • Centralized Backup − Servers view stored data on local disks rather than multiple disk and server connections. Advanced backup features, such as block-level and incremental backups, streamline IT system administrator responsibilities.

  • Dynamic Failover Protection − It can provide continuous network operation, even if a server fails or goes offline for maintenance, enabling built-in redundancy and automatic traffic rerouting.

Updated on: 05-May-2021

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