Storage Area Networks (“SAN”) are specialist networks that makes mass storage available, at a block-level, to servers that, in turn, make the mass storage available to the computer network.
To the computer network, the SAN is invisible and may as well not exist. The computer network client only sees the servers that it is communicating with.
That a SAN serves mass storage at a block-level is core to the value that it can offer. A SAN maximises the utilisation of mass storage capacity by:
- enabling the sharing of storage between as many servers as the environment requires
- enabling the storage volume allocated to a given server to be increased or decreased
- enabling the addition of storage quickly and easily without affecting computer network’s operation
SANs were once only considered a commercially viable option for the largest of Enterprise-level networks, however, as the costs associated with implementation decrease and the subsequent benefits in storage capacity utilisation, scalability and performance are understood by smaller organisations who also have rapidly expanding data storage requirements, SANs are being seen as having a role in ever-smaller organisations.