Storage Area Network (SAN) happens to be a cool solution for many enterprise IT storage needs, as it helps in consolidating all the business data into one single storage appliance. A SAN solution is a collection of storage disk drives which run on a LAN or a WAN network. The best part of SAN is that in the event of one disk failure, with the help of RAID technology, this storage system will be able to rebuild data from the faulty disk onto a spare disk. That also gives brings the question that what makes a SAN solution so efficient in the data storage domain? Well, here is an answer to that and also an overview on how SAN always has a value worth its cost.
Reasons to use SAN
Better disk utilization- Better disk utilization is the primary benefit of using SAN storage. When your storage is available in a centralized manner then everything can be managed as a single entity. This gives you an advantage to slice up the different pools of storage resources at a network level and assign the storage in an intellectual manner to the available server applications. If you missed a SAN deployment then you would have been practicing the tradition of purchasing tons of disks and sticking them to an expensive server. In this practice, high cost investment is needed and disk space also gets wasted as most of your enterprise applications may not need the available space at all times.
SAN for disaster recovery for multiple applications- If your data center/ IT environment has critical servers running on applications which cannot be let down, then there needs to be a data continuity solution in place, which can act as a failover when a disaster strikes. If this indeed is the scenario then SAN based DR solution will be the right choice. Since the volume of downtime is critical in most organizations when disaster strikes, a SAN solution will effectively reduce the downtime number to a negligible value.
For improving the availability of the application- In order to serve those applications which need high availability, a SAN solution will be the right storage medium. There are cases where applications fail due to silent data corruptions or due to some hardware/software fault. But in a storage array of a SAN, data protection algorithms are set to the peak, to ensure data consistency.
SAN can reduce backup time- If an enterprise or a data storage environment is facing a situation where its backup is taking too long, then SAN solution needs to be deployed in these circumstances. The technology of a SAN solution is such that it can make a duplicate of a data copy within no time. Thus these duplicates can serve as a backup for your data or act as a source to backup the data to tape library.
Reasons when not to use a SAN
While this analysis is related to the advantages of SAN but in order to make it complete and “fair”, let us also go over reasons for not using a SAN as well. From technical point of view, there isn’t any drawback. However, a SAN will not make sense, when the right staff, budget and application requirements are not present to support it.