Networking Fundamentals: System Area Network (SAN)

A System Area Network or SAN is alternatively known as Storage Area Network, and it is one of the most important terminologies in computer networking. In theory, SAN is a separate network that stores and performs backups of shared resources and data. It allows all the users registered on the network full liberty of accessing those files. SANs are widely popular among organizational uses because of their sheer ability to store resources and data with maximum security and end to end encryption.

SANs store resources and data while performing backups through an alternate network of storage devices like disk storage. It is set up in a manner which allows storage devices to be available to servers present on a wide area network and a local area network. In many cases, additional storage is required and the best way to do that is to employ extra hardware and make it accessible from any server present on the network. With a System Area Network, data backups are done safely and are kept separately from the main server. The server acts as a line of transmission that connects the stored data on a SAN with the user present on the other end.

Here are the pros of using a System Area Network:

Data is not kept on the main network servers and this offers a great advantage because a user would have an additional capacity which they can utilize for other needs, such as storage of large-sized applications and business software. In addition, other servers on the network can access the same data stored on a SAN and therefore, are able to avoid data and information to be misused across the network. A SAN is also capable of backing up data specifically over the SAN’s storing channels. It prevents resources from being jam-packed inside the LAN and diminishing its speed. This allows for seamless delivery of data on the network and so, users on the other end can easily access the data if any kind of disaster or failure occurs.

How do SANs perform data backups?

Every storage disk comprising on the System Area Network is actually connected to each other. Therefore, it allows a single backup server to perform data backup on more than one storage disks. If in case, the same disks were not connected to each other in the same manner then a multiple server backup system is needed. Consequently, a user would have to allocate more monetary resources and it would also entail many complications to the systems. On a System Area Network, backup of data is also conveniently simplified. Each data file and disk is present on the same main network. This allows for the management of data and backups to be performed in a far easier way.

Security of System Area Networks

All of the data and resources are kept and backed up in one location on a SAN or System Area Network. The levels of security are much rigid on this system than other storage and data backup sources. A user can also alter the access of data that is stored on the server using a SAN. It is also important to know that data is stored separately from the key server network, which makes it increasingly difficult for cyber security hacks to be carried out. Hackers cannot comprise a SAN’s security by attacking with malware, ransom ware or other types of viruses and cyber security threats.

Difference between System Area Networks (SAN) and Direct Attached Storage Networks (DAS)

In simple words, Direct Attached Storage or DAS integrates a super-fast interconnect like SCSI or Small Computer System Interface in order to integrate its multiple disks into the servers’ available. It is a method which is not costly at all and also provides decent performance with a direct advantage of granting immediate access to the database apps. For businesses in the SME sector, a Direct Attached Storage Network is the right option. However, when these companies are looking to scale up their operations, they would want a better resource because DAS is not compatible with complex networks having multiple servers.

Comparison between System Area Networks (SAN) and Network Attached Storage (NAS)           

By definition, NAS or Network Attached Storage is a dedicated file storage which allows more than a single user to recover data from central disk storage. Both SAN and NAS have similarities as well as vital differences between them. A major similarity is that both networks grant free access to storage devices for users. On the contrary, here are the primary differences between SAN and NAS:

  • NAS has a dedicated server while SANs incorporate a multi-purpose server.
  • SAN utilizes open operating systems, whereas NAS uses proprietary operating systems.
  • NAS upgrades are impossible to carry out because they are rather complicated and not worth the effort. Meanwhile, SAN triumphs in this regard with easy upgrades.
  • SANs utilize a wide array of protocols, such as Ethernet, HyperSCSI and Fibre Channel with the latter being the most common. Whereas, NAS protocols are Network File System (NFS) and Server Message Block (SMB).
  • NAS utilizes a file protocol which comprises of a main server owned by a network. The configuration of NAS devices can also be done quite easily. Their files are distributed into packets that are directed to the IP address of the device.
  • NAS has a major flaw which is its proneness to be overwhelmed by a large number of servers. Meanwhile SANs, they utilize block protocol and that means they are benefiting from detached and high-speed networks.

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