A Storage Area Network (SAN) is a consolidated array of hard drives hosted under a shared platform. This architecture allows multiple resources on the network to share the resulting storage volume. Without a SAN architecture, storage volumes become isolated and dedicated to the attached hardware. This constrains the growing economics of inexpensive storage and limits the amount data stored in the collective array.

In the case of a virtualized server environment, a SAN storage structure is recommended and, just as often, hardily demanded. Virtual machines (VM’s) can efficiently be moved and stored in any number of hard disk arrays in various locations on your network if you have the means to manage this growing web of connections. When VM’s are dispersed to different, non-SAN storage locations, the underlying feature set of SAN architecture is ignored and your virtualization infrastructure becomes difficult to manage, backup and expand.

A SAN provides a shared platform whereby any of your host hardware chassis and network endpoints can utilize every sector of provisioned storage. The SAN becomes one large block-level system provisioned for multiple types of storage. Part of the SAN can be carved up for hosting VM’s, another portion for snapshots or flat file backups and yet another portion for file sharing and independent BLOB storage. With the proper SAN implementation, it is quickly possible to spend less on hard disk drives over time and see a realized per/TB return on investment in as little as 12 months. A shared storage solution is a key building block in a properly implemented virtualization architecture.

If you are still running your VMWare or Hyper-V hosts with internal storage only, contact us for a demo and assessment of your SAN ROI and virtualization project plan.