• With the development and wide application of computer technology, storage technology has been obtained Professionals in the industry and various application fields attach importance to it. The rapid growth of data volume raises new problems and requirements for the development of enterprises Host type data access and protection, etc. All of these call for the emergence of new network storage technology and its products.
  • The emergence of SAN and NAS technologies and products not only expands the space for network development, but more importantly, they organically combine network technology with the emerging storage field, and have played an important role in the development of the IT industry.
  • SAN and NAS are often regarded as two competing technologies. In fact, they can complement each other well to provide access to different types of data. SAN is aimed at massive, data-oriented data transmission, while NAS provides file-level data access.
  • These two technologies can not only meet the needs of flexible storage access, but both SAN and NAS are based on open, industry-standard network protocols: Fiber Channel protocol for SAN and network protocol (such as TCP / IP) for NAS. The application range of SAN is more extensive, and can provide storage for NAS devices, and NAS is generally limited to the application of file-level data access. If you don’t consider the differences between them, both SAN and NAS play an important role in today’s enterprise-level storage and have more advantages than traditional server-attached storage.
  • SAN and NAS are powerful additions and replacements to traditional server-connected storage in the field of data centers. As a result, enterprise users are gradually recognizing its many advantages, including improved flexibility, more convenient storage deployment, and lower total cost of ownership. Although SAN and NAS technologies can provide a competitive advantage, they are designed for specific environments and applications.

Key Features

  • SAN As a network infrastructure, SAN is designed to provide a flexible, high-performance, and highly scalable storage environment. The SAN achieves this by connecting between servers and storage devices (such as disk storage systems and tape libraries).
  • High-performance Fiber Channel switches and Fibre Channel network protocols can ensure that device connections are both reliable and effective. These connections are based on local fiber or SCSI (via a SCSI-to-Fibre Channel converter or gateway). One or more Fibre Channel switches provide interconnection between host servers and storage devices in the form of a network topology (SAN architecture).
  • Since SAN is optimized for transferring large blocks of data between servers and storage devices, SAN is an ideal choice for the following applications:
  • mission critical database applications, where the predictable response time, availability and scalability are essential elements.
  • Centralized storage backup, in which performance, data consistency and reliability can ensure the safety of enterprise critical data.
  • High availability and failover environment can ensure lower cost and higher application level.
  • Scalable storage virtualization can separate storage from direct host connection and ensure dynamic storage partitioning.
  • The improved disaster tolerance feature provides high performance and extended distance of Fibre Channel (up to 150 kilometers) between the host server and its connected devices.

The main advantages of SAN

  • Facing the rapidly growing data storage requirements, large enterprises and service providers gradually began to choose SAN as the network infrastructure because of its excellent scalability. In fact, SAN has more significant advantages than traditional storage architectures. For example, traditional server-attached storage is often difficult to update or centrally manage. Each server must be shut down to add and configure new storage. In comparison, a SAN can increase storage without having to go down and interrupt the connection to the server. SAN can also centralize data management, thereby reducing the total cost of ownership.
  • Using Fibre Channel technology, the SAN can efficiently transmit data blocks. By supporting the transfer of massive data blocks between storage and servers, SAN provides an effective way to back up data. Therefore, the network bandwidth traditionally used for data backup can be saved for other applications.
  • Open, industry-standard Fibre Channel technology also makes the SAN very flexible. SAN overcomes the traditional cable limitation connected to SCSI, greatly expands the distance between the server and storage, thereby increasing the possibility of more connections. The improved scalability also simplifies the deployment and upgrade of the server and protects the investment of the original hardware equipment.
  • In addition, SAN can better control the storage network environment, which is suitable for the performance and availability requirements of transaction-based systems. SAN uses high-reliability and high-performance Fibre Channel protocols to meet this need.
  • Another strength of SAN is the ability to transfer data blocks to enterprise-level data-intensive applications. In the process of data transmission, the processing cost of the SAN on communication nodes (especially servers) is less, because the data is divided into smaller data blocks during transmission. Therefore, the Fibre Channel SAN is very effective in transferring large data blocks, which makes the Fibre Channel protocol very suitable for storage-intensive environments.
  • Today, SAN has been gradually integrated with the NAS environment to provide high-performance mass storage for NAS devices. In fact, many SANs are currently used in the background of NAS devices to meet storage scalability and backup needs.

Benefits of SAN

  • One benefit of SAN is that it greatly improves the reliability and scalability of enterprise data backup and recovery operations. SAN-based operations can significantly reduce backup and recovery time, while reducing information traffic on the corporate network.
  • By extending the SAN to the metropolitan area network infrastructure, the SAN can also be seamlessly connected to remote devices, thereby improving disaster tolerance. The SAN deploys metropolitan area network infrastructure to increase the distance between SAN devices, up to 150 kilometers, and hardly degrades performance. Enterprises can use this to improve disaster tolerance by deploying mission-critical applications and remote data replication for critical application servers. Backup and recovery equipment is needed to achieve remote management.
  • In addition, transaction-based database applications have benefited from SAN deployment. Its ability to seamlessly increase storage can reduce the time for data backup.

Problems in SAN

  • In the past two years, the concept of SAN has gradually become popular. SAN can replace the server-based storage mode, and the performance is more superior. However, to this day, interoperability is still the main problem in the implementation process. SAN itself lacks standards, especially in management. Although Fibre Channel (Fibre Channel) technical standards do exist, various manufacturers have different interpretations, so the interoperability problem is like a sandstorm, and it is unexpected.
  • Some SAN vendors set standards through organizations such as SNIA. Others are investing heavily in building interoperability labs to test before launching the SAN. Another way is to outsource SAN. Although SAN vendors have made progress in solving interoperability issues, experts still recommend users to use outsourcing instead of building SANs themselves.



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