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Considerations in figuring savings on a SAN

A SAN can improve more than just storage performance according to this tip from Rick Cook.

Considerations in figuring savings on a SAN
Rick Cook

A Storage Area Network (SAN) not only improves storage performance, it can also save a considerable amount of money. However not all the sources of savings from a SAN are immediately obvious. When estimating savings or ROI from a SAN you need to consider savings in personnel costs and savings from higher availability as well as lower capital costs.

The capital savings of a SAN are fairly obvious, in spite of a SAN's relatively high initial cost. By virtualizing the storage pool a SAN can significantly decrease the cost of storage hardware. SANs allow storage to be allocated more efficiently and can reduce the growth in storage requirements.

The personnel savings of a SAN come from the fact that storage virtualization means each administrator can handle more storage devices. Part of this is that a SAN allows separating the logical storage pools from the physical storage devices and servers. That makes it much easier to allocate storage to applications or departments and reduces the time spent on managing disks and tapes.

The third major area is the savings that come from higher reliability. A properly configured SAN is inherently a high-reliability solution because it can provide redundancy and multiple data paths in a way that is difficult of even impossible with conventional storage architectures. SANs also encourage strategies such as remote copy and backups, which make it easier to keep current backups, and less likely that data will be lost in the event of an outage.

Of course both the costs and savings of a SAN vary considerably with each installation. A realistic cost-benefit analysis must be done on a case-by-case basis. However it is important not to neglect either the hidden costs or the hidden savings that can result from using a SAN.

Gadzoox Networks Inc. discusses some of these issues in a white paper titles "Financial Implications of a SAN" which is available on the company Web site at

Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last twenty years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.

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Related Book

Storage Area Networks: Designing and Implementing a Mass Storage System, 1/e
Author : Ralph Thornburgh and Barry Schoenborn
Publisher : Prentice Hall
Published : Sep 2000
Every month, enterprises require more information, delivered faster, with greater reliability--and traditional data storage methods no longer suffice. Enter the Storage Area Network (SAN), which can store enormous amounts of data, serve it at lightning speed, scale to meet accelerating growth, and deliver unprecedented reliability. Now, there's a complete guide to SAN technology for every IT professional and decision-maker. Storage Area Networks covers it all: key concepts, components, applications, implementation examples, management, and much more.

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