A SAN (Storage Area Network) is a dedicated high performance network to move
data between heterogeneous servers and storage resources. Being a separate
dedicated network it avoids any traffic conflict between clients and servers. A
fibre channel based SAN combines the high performance of an I/O channel (IOPS
and bandwidth) and the connectivity (distance) of a network.
SAN enables concurrent access of disk or tape arrays by two or more servers at
high speeds across fibre channel, providing much enhanced system performance.
SAN has disaster tolerance built in since data can be mirrorred using FC SAN up
to 10 km away.
Since SAN is an independent network, initial costs to set up the infrastructure
would be higher but the potential exists for rapid cost erosion as SAN installed
Scalability is natural to SAN architecture, depending on the SAN network management
Like a LAN/WAN it can use a variety of technologies such as serial SCSI, ESCON,
FICON, SSA, ATM, SONET etc. This allows easy relocation of backup data, restore
operations, file migration and data replication between heterogeneous environments.
- Data centric
- Part of Server cluster
- Thin protocol for low latency
- DMA to server RAM - direct communication to Data
Future of SAN
- Embedded and Distributed File System
- Intelligent SAN-smart File System where portion of File System is in SAN
- Data routing
- Storage network management
- Concurrent processing and manipulation of intelligent data streams
- Server Independent Storage Tasks
- Peer to Peer copying
- Peer to Peer backup
- Automatic back up using Fibre Channel
- Data Sharing, Data Formatting
- Security - Authorization, Authentication, Access Control
SAN technology, in the future, may also interconnect worldwide with other SAN
intranet sites to provide instantaneous replication of corporate data to these
remote sites to create a global information system. This would allow local access
to fast while being up-to-date.
As with all new technologies, SAN developments must rapidly happen in areas of data
management, security features, interoperability test suites, availability of VI
adapters to improve latency between interconnected servers and the availability
of SCSI/Fibre Channel bridges.