A Virtual Storage Area Network (vSAN) is exactly as the name suggests, a virtual network used for data storage. The more traditional approach to data storage is through the use of regular Storage Area Networks (SAN).
SAN is not outdated, it’s just a traditional approach, and we can think of it as a foundation for the vSAN. In this article, we’re going to go into detail about what SAN is, what vSAN is, how it works, and its benefits for data storage.
What Is a Virtual Storage Area Network (vSAN)?
What Is a SAN?
What Is a VSAN?
How Does It Work?
Benefits of VSAN
What is a SAN?
The need for SAN became apparent when our local storage became insufficient. The more data we put into circulation, the more storage we need for it. This is where SAN comes in, the storage area network consists of three key components:
- Storage devices: At the moment, there are many types of storage devices available on the market including hard drives, solid-state drives, flash drives, magnetic tape drives, etc. Some of these make up the storage network.
- Servers: They’re the fundamental part of every SAN. Different server platforms and types can make up a network.
- Networking devices: These include devices such as hubs, switches, cables, splitters, gateways, etc. These devices make up the infrastructure, and there are a ton of them interconnected in the storage area network.
Now, there are different ways a SAN can connect. The connection types depend on different business needs. They depend on scalability needs, but they also depend on security. However, in the end, it’s all about how manageable you want the system. Here are the types:
- iSCI: The Internet Small Computer System Interface, great for smaller SANs. It can run on almost all networks because it’s based on the use of TCP/IP, the networking protocol all our devices use.
- FCP: Fiber Channel Protocol is a type of connection that provides better speeds as it’s conducted by fiber. Enterprises use this type of connection for their SANs.
- FCIP: It’s another fiber-type connection called Fiber Channel over IP. This is a convenient SAN connection type as almost every company has a networking infrastructure already.
What is a VSAN?
VSAN has the same purpose as SAN, but it’s based on virtualization. So, instead of dealing with everything manually and deploying the storage on-site, we can deal with it virtually from literally anywhere.
With a virtual storage area network, we can create virtual logical storage blocks. VSAN is a software-based solution for our storage. However, we still need to have an underlying hardware infrastructure for it to work.
How Does It Work?
Well, the virtual storage area network consolidates all our storage, networking, and computer resources to create something we can refer to as our personal data center. Imagine having multiple storage units available and managing them from one end.
This is what vSAN does, you can have a 128GB SSD and a 128GB HDD connected. But, instead of using them separately, you can create one logical storage block to take the 128GB from the SSD and 28GB from the HDD, making virtual storage of 156GB.
We don’t have to dedicate the storage on-site and divide specific capacities to fit the needs of our data. All we need to do is enter the management software for our virtual storage area network and manage the storage from there.
Benefits of VSAN
It’s a very practical solution for any business scale. The key difference between SAN and vSAN is that with SAN we need to dedicate the storage before we use it, but vSAN can convert physical storage into a single virtual storage block. Here are some other benefits:
- Cheaper: If you need more than one storage area network, vSAN is a cheaper solution. Well, it’s also cheaper because it’s virtual and there are fewer administration and management costs.
- Flexible: You can change the structure of the virtual SAN and there’s an added benefit of data migration according to the frequency of use. If it’s used often, the data will be migrated onto higher-performing physical storage devices.
- Highly available: It’s a centralized system that offers high availability, and that’s what makes virtual storage area networks so efficient. The data can be retrieved in seconds if properly stored.
- Highly manageable: This benefit coincides with the previous one, because the vSAN is a centralized virtual storage area network it makes sense that it’s highly manageable, i.e., more manageable than a traditional SAN.
There you have it. VSAN is a great solution for storage capacity management. It works through the consolidation of all resources related to storage. Instead of physically managing storage devices, we can manage them virtually.We’re not saying that SAN is an unfit solution for businesses, but vSAN is the next step. However, we recommend consulting with your storage administrators to see what fits their experience and expertise.