Understanding Storage Area Networks in Software

Encode Data Matrix in Software Understanding Storage Area Networks

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1 What is a storage area network (SAN) A SAN is a high-speed dedicated network that is not unlike a local area network (LAN). A SAN establishes direct connections between storage elements, clients, or servers. SANs are developed through the use of multiple storage devices (such as a redundant array of independent disks [RAID], just a bunch of disks [JBODs], or tape libraries) that are connected in an any-to-any relationship and accessed via one or more servers. In plain English, SAN systems do not require server connections; they are LAN-free backup systems. They do not need to be housed in the same box as servers, nor are they required to be from the same manufacturing companies as servers. Rather than putting data storage directly on the network, the SAN solution puts data storage network devices between storage subsystems and the servers. SANs can be built as switched- and/or shared-access networks. They offer exceptional improvements in scalability, fault recovery, and diagnostic analysis information. Why is data storage such an important issue Well, it is estimated that 3.2 million exabytes of information exist on the earth today, and this number exceed 43 million by the year 2005. And in case you re wondering, an exa is defined as 1 billion, so in decimal terms, one exabyte is equal to a billion gigabytes! With data, or information, constituting such a large measurement, it is no surprise that data storage has become an issue of major importance for modern businesses. The benefits that SANs offer when addressing data storage issues are that they provide environments where
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All data storage assets are shared among multiple servers without being physically attached to their storage bases. Data movements and manipulation are being managed with greater ease and efficiency. There are significant reductions in the negative impacts on critical business applications.
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In short, SANs have been developed to alleviate the limitations of single-server storage. They are, for all intents and purposes, extended storage buses that can be interconnected using similar
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interconnect technologies that are typically already used on LANs and wide area networks (WANs), namely, routers, hubs, switches, and gateways.
What s in a SAN
What comprises a SAN Though commonly spoken of in terms of hardware, SANs also include specialized software for managing, monitoring, and configuring data storage. In discussing SAN hardware, we refer to three major components:
Interfaces-Host bus adapters (HBAs) Interconnects-Targets Fabrics-Switches
SAN Interfaces
Common SAN Interfaces include Fibre Channel, Small Computer System Interface (SCSI), SSA, Enterprise Systems Connection (ESCON), High-Performance Parallel Interface (HIPPI), and Bus-&Tags. All these options allow the storage of data to exist externally to the server. They also can host shared storage configurations for clustering.
SAN Interconnects
Examples of SAN interconnects include multiplexors, hubs, routers, extenders, gateways, switches, and directors. Typically, information technology (IT) professionals are familiar with these terms if they have installed a LAN or WAN. The SAN interconnect ties a SAN interface into a network configuration across large distances. The interconnect also links the interface to SAN fabrics.
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Understanding Storage Area Networks
SAN Fabrics
1
Switched SCSI, Fibre Channel switched, and switched Serial Storage Architecture (SSA) are the most common SAN fabrics.
Who Needs a SAN
One of the biggest problems most businesses face is how to store and manage their data. SANs enable applications that move data around the network to perform optimally by adding bandwidth for specific functions without placing a load on primary networks. SANs enable data warehousing and other higher-performance solutions. Increasingly, almost any small, midsized, or large businesses can justify the need for a SAN, particularly businesses that require quick access to information. Businesses that are involved in transaction-based applications, such as e-commerce, customer service, and/or financial applications, benefit greatly by using a SAN. Likewise, businesses in which transaction volumes are often unpredictable require SANs. Additionally, businesses in which customers require 24/7 availability would benefit tremendously from a SAN solution. The need for SANs is based on workload, and with the ever-increasing use of network technology (NT) for enterprise applications, SANs ultimately will be found supporting many Windows NT applications. SANs frequently support UNIX and other mainframe operating systems as well. These operating systems offer the reliability required for 24/7 availability.
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