A storage area network (SAN) offers large companies with high data quantities fast, efficient organization in a central location. If you’re looking to implement a SAN, first learn the crucial details to make sure it’s the right choice. The following guide will ensure you have a firm grasp of the many advantages and disadvantages.

What Is a Storage Area Network?

A storage area network (SAN) is a fast, dedicated system that extends a communication bridge between a computer and other storage servers. It is responsible for connecting wide ranges of storage types, such as digital servers and physical drives. Finally, a SAN is comprised of linked storage components and hosts.

An example to help you visualize how a SAN works is a company that shoots digital videos. As the amount of videos they produce grows so do their storage needs. Instead of storing the videos on a hard drive, they move the data to a SAN. The SAN now holds their data (videos), which is accessed extremely fast by the company. The SAN can now be expanded upon when the video company’s data storage needs increase.

A man checks connections in a large server.
A SAN connects computers with external servers.

How Is SAN Different From NAS?

Though both storage area network and network attached storage are similar, they have a lot of important differences. For one, the SAN appears differently to computer systems. This is because the SAN is read as a disk that is separate from the network. The NAS, however, is read as its own individual network.

One thing NAS does further than storage for client computers is it reduces costs for a vast array of different system types through its storage. Furthermore, the price of NAS appliances continues to drop over time, something that is significant for companies.

A digital network connected.
The SAN and NAS are both networks but they have major differences.

What Are the Advantages of Implementing a SAN?

Now that you understand what a SAN is, you’ll need to evaluate your company’s data storage needs to see if it’s the right type of network for you. Here are some of the main advantages to using a SAN:

Centralized Data Storage

Centralization of data increases organization, which increases data management efficiency. Your data is accessed singularly on a SAN rather than on multiple servers or disks. Also, centralization of data offers easier backup.

Extremely High-Speed Access and Retrieval

Accessing your data in a SAN is extremely fast, as a SAN uses high-speed storage tech. Retrieval is therefore efficient and executes without extensive buffers in-between the access and retrieval process.

Multiple Web Server Access Points to Data

Implementing a SAN gives companies the opportunity to increase the amount of access points to their data. This is because the SAN is accessible through more than just one web server.

A man uses a laptop in a server room.
A SAN increases access points.

What Are the Disadvantages of a SAN?

SAN has very clear advantages for certain enterprises but not everyone’s the same. Here are some drawbacks to using a SAN:

Overkill for Some

SAN is perfect for large companies but smaller enterprises usually have less data. Because of this, there’s no need for extensive server storage upgrades. It’s not an overwhelming task for a small company to manage a few servers so the idea of upgrading to SAN makes little sense.

High Initial Price

Implementing a SAN comes at a heavy initial cost and though it might pay itself back in full for some companies, it might not for others. The price of a SAN is justified if it can save companies money on other things, such as security and IT. If their storage needs are simpler, the high cost isn’t going to reach these levels of return.

Companies are implementing a SAN to simplify the digital data storage and data management process. Measure your needs with the advantages of a SAN to see if it works for you.

Casey Schmidt – Content Manager and Industry Expert | Canto

Casey is a content management and branding expert who enjoys taking complex subjects and making them easy to understand for readers.