If you’ve spent any time around people who work in IT, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about storage area networks (SANs). SAN architecture and hardware devices offer many advantages over network attached storage (NAS). This type of IT infrastructure has no single point of failure, making it an attractive option for companies that need reliable storage for massive amounts of data.
Companies that implement storage area networks experience greater reliability, data transfer speeds and scalability than any type of local area network can provide. SAN solutions aren’t for every company, and it’s important to understand the advantages and disadvantages before setting up any type of network storage. Read on for an introduction to SAN that will help you make the right IT purchase decisions for your business.
Pros of Implementing a SAN
Let’s start with some of the reasons you might consider upgrading your storage to a SAN solution. Decentralizing your storage comes with a multitude of potential benefits — all of which improve efficiency for businesses with massive amount of data:
- There is no single point of failure in a SAN. That means it is fault-tolerant and if one device in the network goes down, the rest will continue to store and provide access to data. SAN’s high availability proves useful when even a moment of downtime leads to lost revenue.
- The RAID storage configurations found in SANs are capable of storing large amounts of data — much more than a single server on its own. This makes SAN beneficial for companies that want to stop purchasing new hardware whenever storage is low.
- SANs connect multiple disk arrays, switches and servers. Because data is decentralized in this arrangement, the network provides more efficient disk utilization. In other words, the network assigns the most resources to the largest data transfers, eliminating bottlenecks.
- The physical connections between SAN devices (disk arrays, switches and servers) typically provide high-speed data transfers with fibre channel or InfiniBand technology.
- Accessing a SAN is simple because computer hard drives recognize it as a local attached hard drive rather than a shared network device.
- SANs are highly-scalable because adding more storage space to disk arrays does not interrupt the network.
Medium to large companies often choose SANs over NAS because it provides an ideal combination of reliability, speed and scalability. If your business experiences storage failures, slowdowns or an inability to keep up with data demands, a SAN may provide the flexibility you need.
Cons of Implementing a SAN
While a SAN is a great option for many organizations, other workplaces cannot justify the new hardware and the implementation and upkeep that come with this IT upgrade. Here are some circumstances that might deter a business from switching to a SAN data center configuration:
- If you only have a few servers, the benefits of a SAN may not outweigh the expenses. A SAN typically runs across dozens of servers. Organizations with a smaller amount of server hardware are better suited for using NAS.
- The cost benefits of SANs happen over a long period of time. Advantages such as less downtime, higher efficiency and disaster recovery relief take time to impact your business. If a company doesn’t foresee growth in the immediate future, the initial costs of a SAN could outweigh the potential advantages.
- If you’re looking for a disaster recovery solution for just one application, a software solution might better serve your business. These solutions are typically host-based, and you can use your existing servers to transmit data to recovery hardware.
The one thing these cons all have in common is cost. Like any type of new IT infrastructure, a SAN comes with upfront costs that you must carefully consider before moving forward with a data center revamp.
If you’re unsure of whether the costs of implementing a SAN are worth the investment, you can take advantage of our budgeting and planning services. We’ll help you determine whether a SAN is worth the investment for your situation, and if it’s not, we’ll help you find alternative storage solutions.
Connecting Your Hardware
SANs are the type of IT infrastructure that require expert setup and installation. It’s not the type of IT upgrade that you can just implement on a whim because there are hundreds of hardware connections to consider. Top Gun Technology has the experience to help you bring your data storage to the next level.
Take some time to explore our storage hardware options. Our pre-owned hardware can save you some cash as opposed to buying new. What you save in money you won’t sacrifice in performance, because we refurbish all of our hardware to perform as if it were new. See what makes Top Gun a top choice for businesses that prioritize smart IT upgrades.