An intelligent switch is a high-level storage area network (SAN) routing switch that provides features such as storage virtualization, quality of service (QoS), remote mirroring, data sharing, protocol conversion, and advanced security. Intelligent switches are an important part of storage area management (SAM), a methodology that is gaining in importance as networks become increasingly complex and expensive to deploy, operate, and maintain.
Intelligent switches can make it possible to manage storage in heterogeneous environments, reduce SAM costs, and provide expandability and scalability for existing SANs in large and growing businesses. However, intelligent switches are still in the evolutionary stage, and may not be an ideal solution for smaller enterprises, or in SANs not expected to grow or change substantially in the immediate future.
The intelligent switches in some sophisticated SANs are the latest product in a technology that is decades old. Primitive intelligent switches first appeared in telephone networks during the 1980s, and were used for automatic call routing. Similar switches found applications in other communications networks, including the Internet as it evolved during the 1990s.