What is SAN (Storage Area Network)?

SAN (Storage Area Network) is designed to connect servers, disk arrays and media libraries, and is mainly based on fiber channel technology and iSCSI.

What is SAN (Storage Area Network)?

What is a SAN Storage?

The SAN structure connects the different elements that make up it quickly, securely, and reliably, and is distinguished from other network storage modes thanks to its low-level access mode.

The type of traffic in the SAN environment is similar to the operating structure of fixed storage systems such as ATA, SATA, and SCSI, and the SCSI protocol is used to access data on the storage system, even if most systems do not include physical SCSI interfaces.

One of the main features of these systems is that they are designed to minimize the response time of the transmission medium. Therefore, it allows multiple servers to be connected to the same disk group, allowing optimum use of storage systems and backups.

SANs configured with fiber optic cables have more advantages, so devices with distances of 10 km or more can be reached without routers. Depending on the performance of computer systems, the transfer rates of data transmission can reach Gigabit speeds.

One of the other advantages is that they have more connections, allowing servers and storage devices to connect to the system multiple times. In this way, redundant paths can be configured to increase fault tolerance.

Fiber Optic

An optical channel is a closed, structured, and predictable mechanism for the transmission of information, allowing information to be sent simply without deciding how or where to send it.

SCSI and HPPI channel protocols are commonly used to connect various peripheral devices such as disk drives, printers, and tape drives. Fiber combines the best features of channels and networks and provides a hardware-based standard for an intelligent channel that combines the advantages of a channel and the technologies of a network in a single input/output interface.

This smart channel is used for high-speed transmission of various popular protocols such as FDDI, SCSI, HIPPI, IP and ATM, and provides great flexibility in network design. Thus, Fiber cables allow one to take advantage of all these technologies and realize the use of built-in protocols that work with copper cables up to 100 meters or fiber optic cables up to 10 kilometers or more.

One of the best-known examples of the use of storage area networks is fiber. SAN allows the creation of a storage network independent of the servers, unlike the traditional arrangement where each server has an integrated hard disk drive.

When a SAN structure is desired to be created, a high-speed connection such as Fiber is configured, enabling the rapid transfer of large amounts of data between servers and storage devices. As a result, a SAN network is created where high-speed connection, efficient data transfer, and a large number of storage devices are combined.

Because fiber cables allow data transfer over very long distances, storage devices can be placed in safe locations, which is an important consideration for disaster recovery problems.

Components

   Servers

A storage network is a network of all types of servers with any operating system that can access network storage. The network between servers and storage helps it recognize shared disks as local system devices, and the servers are connected to the SAN using one or more fiber cables.

   Storage

Storage devices form the foundation of the SAN network, whereby storage is outsourced and its functionality distributed. Both tape drives or libraries and tape robots and RAID connect directly to the fiber network.

RAID systems are designed with data availability and security in mind. It also supports redundant and hot-swappable devices. Controllers connect to the SAN network and the internal fabric of the RAID via SCSI buses or internal connections through fiber ports.

Controllers are capable of RAID-type parity and redundancy functions, access to volumes or LUNs managed by them, and the ability to maintain control of the system in case their partners fail.

   Connectors

Various connectors such as MIA adapters, GBIC interface converters, and extenders are used to facilitate greater distances in fiber connections. The SCSI bridge is used to connect SCSI devices to a Fiber Channel network.

Application Areas

The application areas of a SAN provide improvements in the performance, management, and scalability of information technology systems. Servers and storage systems sharing the same network generally allow for three different ways to transfer data, between server and storage, only between servers, and only between storage units.

SAN provides data transfer from servers directly between storage systems. Although the applications of SAN are various, the main areas of usage are as follows:

   Central Management

Allows storage devices to be configured in custom groups separate from servers. In this way, storage management is performed with a RAID system and several servers.

Connecting all devices within the same network infrastructure allows the use of network-specific global management techniques.

   Data Sharing

Providing improvements in the use of storage devices, each storage unit is assigned to a single server. Both the SCSI protocol and the operating system software can be configured for such cases.

   Data Protection

It provides the ability to connect magnetic tape drives to a SAN and excludes network data from copying. It can also apply data protection techniques between two remote units by offering the ability to make copies from remote location to server disk to tape.

   Usability

A SAN system can achieve multiple servers accessing the same data volume in one or more ways, depending on its topology and configuration.

   Continuity

A SAN system can be routed over wide area networks as it can reach long distances. It also allows disaster recovery solutions as it supports this continuity feature.

Advantages

The performance of SAN (Storage Area Network) systems is directly related to the type of network used. Performance can be further increased by increasing the bandwidth of a fiber infrastructure and the number of access connections.

The capacity of this system can be expanded unlimitedly and can reach hundreds of terabytes. Because it is completely separated from user traffic, it allows the system to be shared between multiple computers on the network without affecting performance.

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