What is a Storage Area Network (SAN)

What is a Storage Area Network (SAN)?

A storage area network (SAN) is a dedicated storage network that provides access to consolidated, block level storage. SANs are used to make hard drives accessible to servers so that the devices appear as if it is a local hard drive to the operating system such as Windows. SAN used to an expensive technology but the price has come down drastically since the early 2000’s.

There are generally two types of SAN, ISCSI and Fiber Channel (FC). The Fiber Channel SANs used to be so expensive compare to ISCSI SANs but has come down in price. The advantage of Fiber Channel SAN is the performance compare to ISCSI SANs. The performance can be very noticeable depending on the products you run in the backend. These days, one of the main purposes of the SAN is not only file storage, but also to run virtual machines. My recommendation is to run Fiber Channel SANs over ISCSI SANs.

I’ve seen IBM DS3524 Fiber Channel SAN work unbelievably well for the price point and features it offers. Please note I have no affiliations with IBM or any SAN manufacturers. I only recommended IBM DS3524 because of my experiences in the field.

If you are considering virtualizing your servers, my strong recommendation is to get a Fiber Channel SCSI and also get VMWare Vmotion and DRS. In a future article, I will show you how to setup a failover and servers that can be up 99.999% of the time.

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