Cost-effectiveness and relative uncomplexity make SAN solutions optimal for enterprise and small to medium sized business environments.
SANs are primarily used to make storage devices, such as disk arrays, tape libraries, and optical jukeboxes, accessible to servers so that the devices appear like locally attached devices to the operating system. A SAN typically has its own network of storage devices that are generally not accessible through the local area network by other devices.
A SAN does not provide file abstraction, only block-level operations. However, file systems built on top of SANs do provide file-level access, and are known as SAN file systems or shared disk file systems. Since SAN’s are block-level devices they allow for server boot device functionality. Operating systems maintain their own file systems on their own dedicated, non-shared LUNs, as though they were local to themselves. SANs help to increase storage capacity utilization, since multiple servers consolidate their private storage space onto the disk arrays or LUN.
iSCSI is an IP-based storage networking standard for linking data storage facilities.
iSCSI is an abbreviation of Internet Small Computer System Interface. iSCSI is an Internet Protocol (IP)-based storage networking standard for linking block level data storage facilities. By carrying SCSI commands over IP networks, iSCSI is used to facilitate data transfers over standard Ethernet connections and to manage storage over long distances. iSCSI can be used to transmit data over local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), or the Internet and can enable location-independent data storage and retrieval. The protocol allows clients (called initiators) to send SCSI commands (CDBs) to SCSI storage devices (targets) on remote servers. It is a Storage Area Network (SAN) protocol, allowing organizations to consolidate storage into data center storage arrays while providing hosts with the illusion of locally-attached disks. Unlike traditional Fibre Channel, which requires special-purpose cabling and switches, iSCSI can be run over long distances using existing network infrastructure.
iSCSI can be implemented over existing infrastructure making it the most affordable option or put into operation over a dedicated network to improve performance and reliability. iSCSI initiators can be software or hardware based by adding iSCSI HBA adapters .
Fibre Channel storage area network (SAN) solutions offer the fastest performance storage sharing option. Fibre Channel fabric topology is an infrastructure specially designed to handle storage communications that utilizes fiber optic cabling for interconnecting devices. When interconnecting multiple devices in the storage network, a Fibre Channel switch maybe required as part of the network fabric. In high availability server environments, multiple switches will be incorporated in the network creating multiple data paths to the same devices providing redundancy for data packets. Fibre Channel switches can be an expensive device to incorporate in the network layer.
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