Advantages and Disadvantages of Using SAN (Storage Area Network)

Last Updated - November 21, 2019
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using SAN (Storage Area Network)
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using SAN (Storage Area Network)

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The term SAN stands for ‘Storage Area Network’. As the name suggests, it is a dedicated high-speed network particularly used for data storage. This network is built with servers, switches, fiber optic cables, and storage devices. In this system, the storage devices are not directly connected to the servers.

Rather, storage devices are connected to the servers through switches. And, optical fibers are used for the connection. Due to that, the data transfer speed of a SAN is very high. And for that very reason, servers and the Operating System sees the hosted data or storage devices as local disk drives.

It also implies that SAN provides access to only block-level operations and consolidated data even though there are multiple storage devices and servers. And, like all the other data storage solutions, SAN also has its good and bad sides. In this post, we will let you know what are the benefits and drawbacks of using a SAN (Storage Area Network).

So, let’s get down to business…

Pros of using SAN

  • Security

If you want to keep your data secure, then you should opt for using SAN. You can implement various types of security measures on a SAN easily. For instance, you will be able to isolate the users, organizations, or departments with the help of a virtual SAN.

You can also implement ACL (Access Control List) within the switches to make sure that only the authenticated users can join. Other than these, there are a lot of other steps you can take for securing the SAN. So, all of your data on the SAN are secured.

  • High-Speed Data Transfer

If you are annoyed with the slow data transfer rate of your storage network and storage devices, then you would love using SAN. As SAN technology uses fiber optics to transfer the data, it can transfer data with the speed of over 5 Gbps. It is one of the fastest data transfer network technologies till date.

  • Failover Protection (Dynamic)

SAN offers automatic continuous network operation. It doesn’t matter if one or a few of the servers go offline or fail. The automatic traffic rerouting function and built-in redundancy would take over whenever a server failure happens. As a result, your storage network will be always up. This dynamic failover protection comes in handy while you need to do maintenance work on any of the servers.

  • Centralized Backup

SAN stores data at the block level. And, all of the data in a SAN is centralized. That means, the data will be automatically replicated and it will be stored on a central location. So, even if a server disconnects or goes off in the network, then all the other servers take control and stabilize the data load. As a result, the data transfer on the SAN stays uninterrupted.

  • Faster and Cheaper Backup

We have just told you that SAN uses a centralized backup process. One can automate the entire data backup process using centralized backup technology. That way, all of the data of your storage network will be automatically backed up almost instantly.

It is also cheaper than using any other type of storage network. So, if taking a backup of your data takes too long and you want to improve it, you can use SAN or Storage Area Network.

  • Better Disk Utilization

Another great advantage of using SAN is better disk management. As all of the storage arrays are connected via a centralized storage network, all these can be managed as a single unit. So, you can individually manage and assign the storage at the network level to the particular servers that need it. Otherwise, without a SAN, you had to buy multiple individual storage disks and insert them in servers one by one. Whereas using a SAN removes all these obstacles in disk management.

  • High-end Disaster Recovery

In a SAN facility, you can implement industry-leading disaster recovery systems. Typically, SAN will have a secondary storage array that ensures faster and easier data backup. So, whenever a disaster hits you will have a backup of your data and it can be easily recovered when it is necessary.

Although, it is true that implementing a disaster recovery system for a SAN is expensive. But, you will thank yourself for implementing disaster recovery as you will be able to get back all the lost data via the Disaster Recover feature.

  • Better Availability of Your Data and Applications

SAN or Storage Area Networks are made in a way that these are meant to never go down or fail. This network storage technology uses lots of failsafe solutions to protect your data. As a result, you will always get access to the data and applications that are necessary for you or your organization. SAN also uses the top-notch algorithm for data protection, so your data will always be safe and consistent.

  • For Big Data Center Owners

SAN has all the best features to be a perfect solution for data centers. There a lot of good reasons to use SAN instead of other various storage solutions in a data center. It is secure, failsafe, fast, and even needs less power to operate. So, it can be a great addition to big data centers of organizations.

  • Simplifying Storage Administration

As you don’t have to deal with multiple disk storage devices or cables on a daily basis, SAN helps to save you from a lot of hassle and it also saves a lot of your precious time as well. Simply put, SAN simplifies storage administration from the ground up.

  • Easy to Add or Remove Storage Devices

You can add new storage devices simply to the SAN if you need more storage. Likewise, if you need to remove extra storage devices, you can easily do that. You can increase or decrease the storage space of your storage network anytime you want to even without interrupting the entire operation on the servers. You don’t even need to stop or reset your servers to add or remove storage space as these are not directly connected to the storage devices.

  • Everything at the Same Place

As all the servers are connected via switches, you don’t have to move storage devices from one server to another physically, if you want to allocate new storage space from one server to another. You can use a SAN as a single entity.

  • No Bandwidth Bottlenecks

In LAN based storage networks, the data are stored on the servers or storage disks. As a result, you will face bandwidth bottlenecks while a huge amount of data is being transferred via LAN. So, if your website gets a sudden spike on visitors, the servers will crash.

However, in the case of SAN, all the data are stored on the SAN. So, the resources of your servers and storage devices are always available to the system. And, you will not face any bandwidth bottlenecks in SAN.

Cons of using SAN

  • Might be Expensive for Some

Frankly, to run a decent storage Area Network system, you will need to spend a hefty amount of money. It is because you are getting an industry-leading data storage and transfer facility. So, if you don’t have a big business then you can avoid using SAN. Instead, you can look for other affordable solutions.

  • Doesn’t Work Well with Only a Few Servers

It is not impossible to use SAN with only a few servers. However, it will be costly for you. Whereas you could actually manage those servers yourself without spending too much. In that regard, if you have dozens or hundreds of expensive servers, you can take advantage of using SAN.

  • Data might Leak

You should always take good measures to secure the SAN. Then again, implementing high-end security measures to a SAN is expensive. So, a lot of users don’t use them. However, if you don’t take all the necessary precautions, sensitive data might leak as all of the client computers uses the same storage devices and servers in SAN.

Before We Go

There you have it. We hope now you know whether using a SAN worth it or not. From the discussions above, you will get a good grasp of what a SAN is and the pros and cons of using it. If you are unclear about anything, you can always leave a comment down below.

I am Mike Lee, one of the founders of ReviewPlan. I like blogging and dedicated in web hosting. I write about web hosting reviews, technology and hosting related services.