A storage area network (SAN) is a computer network that provides high-speed and dedicated access to block-level data storage.
SANs deliver shared resource pools for data storage that’s used to access storage hardware through external devices.
They enable external storage devices, such as disk arrays and tape libraries, to connect as direct-attached storage (DAS) when accessed by the operating system.
See below to learn all about the global SAN market:
Storage area network market
The server SAN market was estimated at $16 billion in 2020. It’s forecast to maintain a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 45.7% from 2020 to 2027, reaching a value of $222.5 billion by the end of it.
Regionally, the SAN market is segmented as follows:
- The U.S. market was estimated at $4.8 billion in 2020
- The Chinese market is forecast for a CAGR of 43.2%, reaching $35.1 billion by 2027
- Japan and Canada are forecast to grow at a CAGR of 42% and 38.9% over the forecast period
- Within Europe, Germany is projected to maintain one of the highest CAGRs at 31.1%
By industry, the banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI) and IT and telecommunications sectors are expected to remain the biggest drivers of the SAN market, bringing in an estimated $10 billion by the end of 2022.
Other notable industries in the SAN market include:
- Energy and utility
- Health care
- Retail and e-commerce
Storage area network features
A SAN is a communication infrastructure that physically connects storage devices to user devices and applications through the network.
Unlike direct connections of storage servers, SAN infrastructure is able to bypass regular network traffic and bottlenecks, allowing for high-speed data access and transfer.
SAN can connect components from server to server, server to storage, or storage to storage, depending on its role and location in the environment.
A SAN has several primary network components:
The size and type of data being stored affects the hardware being used, from solid-state drives (SSDs) and hard disk drives (HDDs) to tape drives.
SAN solutions have their own underlying infrastructure of servers. The type and connection of the server, from platforms to consolidated servers over the internet, depend on the type of network and the data stored on it.
A SAN moves data around through its hardware and software components using communications channels. A Fibre Channel, for instance, network protocol allows for fast and prioritized data travel and can be integrated into networking hardware.
Network management software
SAN management software is the intermediary interface between the connected devices, storage arrays, and the network’s host. It enables users to control the access and routes of data as well as the infrastructure map of user devices, storage devices, switches, and SAN zoning.
Benefits of storage area network
The use of a SAN as the primary, or one of many, data storage access solutions, can result in several key benefits for companies, such as:
- Reduces bandwidth and traffic bottlenecks
- Improved data security
- Enables reliable data recovery
- Increases scalability options
- Simplifies responsive data backups
- Enables reliable disaster recovery
- Higher fault tolerance
- Optimizes storage capacity
- Reduces storage costs
“The block-level access allows enterprises to eliminate the need for local storage and facilitate environments with network boot where host devices access all storage needs from the SAN, including the operating system,” according to a post at BMC.
“SAN can provide nearly unlimited capacity and scalability compared to other solutions, as any number of SAN devices can be added to a storage solution.”
Optimizing storage capacity with SAN
Direct storage networks use about 30% of disk space, while SAN solutions use around 80% of disk storage utilization.
“A storage area network leads to increased data protection and ensures security. It helps in business continuity management activities, such as handling crises, dealing with disasters and facing incidents. It can also withstand storage failures and improper coordination,” according to a post by Thomastech, an IT infrastructure and maintenance services company.
Storage area network use cases
The following case studies highlight how different organizations are using SAN solutions:
Helse Nord is a health authority in Norway, running 11 hospitals and serving just under 500,000 residents. It employs more than 19,000 people.
Helse Nord’s IT department is responsible for the storage and management of the entire region’s patient data. They were looking to meet more advanced security requirements in the health care industry, including GDPR and local standards.
Working with VMware, Helse Nord was able to transform their three-layer data infrastructure into a modern, software-defined data center (SDDC), using VMware vSphere and VMware vSAN.
“We now have patients in their hospital beds accessing their personal records via their mobile devices,” says Vegard Jørgensen, senior advisor, Helse Nord Department of Services.
”And when the doctor returns to them the following day, they have seen all the notes, researched their condition and treatment, and are much better informed.”
With VMware, Helse Nord’s IT department was able to unify their data infrastructure for the region, increase the efficiency and scalability of the infrastructure, and set up an improved foundation for newer Internet of Things (IoT) and tech services.
The Heart of Worcester College
The Heart of Worcester College (HoW College) has four campuses across the area with an enrolment of over 10,000 students, along with 700 staff members.
Following the merger of the North East Worcestershire College and the Worcester College of Technology, the expansion introduced a pool of 33 TB of storage data, in-house applications, and security apps spread out over 200 virtual machines (VMs).
Partnering with DataCore, HoW College was able to implement SANsymphony as the primary framework for their digital innovation and data infrastructure management.
“It’s difficult to put a price on actual savings using SDS. What I can tell you confidently, is that we haven’t had to spend IT budget on spinning disks for over four years, allowing us to re-allocate the budget into the student’s digital experience,” says Ed Haworth, IT lead engineer, Heart of Worcestershire College.
“But it’s also a reflection on the peace of mind that DataCore affords, seamlessly doing everything for us without complaining or demanding.”
With DataCore, HoW College was able to stretch their budget by replacing existing HP hardware, gain a complete management overview of their IT environment, and implement auto-tiering and correct allocation of data for storage optimization.
Shibuya External Link
Shibuya External Link is named after Tokyo’s busiest intersection, where thousands of people are estimated to cross every hour. Based in Sweden, the company aims to offer customized IT solutions throughout the Nordic region.
As a provider of data-intensive applications that use big data, data analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI), Shibuya sought a cost-efficient solution for their IT infrastructure. Working with IBM for the past 16 years, Shibuya decided to deploy IBM Storage Networking SAN46B-6 to meet their increasing customer demand.
“IBM technology is designed for seamless scalability, which means that both we and our clients can seize growth opportunities with confidence,” says Christian Wibeck, head of business development, Shibuya.
“Whether it’s exceptionally high performance or incredible resilience, we have the tools to deliver.”
With IBM, Shibuya was able to implement round-the-clock customer operations, ensure 100% data availability, and build the ideal data centers.
Storage area network providers
Some of the leading providers in the SAN market include:
- DataCore Software
- Scale Computing
- Extreme Networks
- Nexenta Systems
- Dell Technologies
- Hitachi Vantara
- Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)
- Juniper Networks