Six technical criterion to look for while purchasing an enterprise SAN

Storage Area Network widely and shortly known as SAN is often considered as a single solution which fits into many enterprise data storage needs. Infact, this theory is practically observed in many enterprises IT environments as a SAN helps in consolidating all the business data into one single storage appliance.

Therefore, to those who are on a budge to buy an enterprise SAN solution, here are the six technical criterions which have to be present in the enterprise SAN solution to be purchased.

Hardware architecture – Scalability is one of the hallmarks of high end enterprise SAN arrays and so the SAN hardware architectures to be purchased need to support substantial scalability. Most recently released products, such as StoneFly IP SAN has proven to scale performance to multiple millions of IOPS and sub-millisecond latency that, combined with the support of hundreds of cores.

Disk Subsystems- Almost all SAN systems offered by the vendors nowadays, are having the ability to scale to multiple Petabytes of raw storage. But only few of those vendors are offering SAN solutions which have hybrid storage architecture and one such company is StoneFly which offers support to a combination of solid-state drives and Hard Disks. This feature presence extends the capability of cache by keeping active data on fast tiers and less active data on slower tiers- all in an automated way with the help of an intelligent storage operating system.

Protocol support and number of available ports- Nowadays, all SAN products are supporting 8Gbps and 16 Gbps Fibre Channel protocols. But going for a SAN which has iSCSI protocol support will prove economically beneficial as it gives the enterprise an advantage in environments that don’t have an FC network.

Availability and Reliability- In general, the main advantage in using a very high end SAN Array is to ensure undisrupted storage services. Five nines (99.999%) of availability offered by SAN vendors related to a mere five minutes of downtime a year. But six nines is now the norm which is prevailing in the SAN storage market. Actually, reliability and availability can be put together on the same path when it comes to san storage purchase. It’s how much of the time an enterprise user can actually get to use it. In other words, how much of the time is this particular device available. Availability includes how often it breaks and then how fast it gets put back into service. You also have to include how often it is out of service or unavailable due to routine maintenance.

For record purpose, here’s the present & past story of 9’s when it comes to reliability and availability factor in the data storage world


  • Six nines or 99.9999% availability means only a 32 seconds or less downtime per year is observed.
  • Five-nines or 99.999% availability means 5 minutes, 15 seconds or less of downtime in a year.
  • Four-nines or 99.99% availability means the storage appliance allows 52 minutes, 36 seconds of downtime per year.
  • Three nines or 99.9% availability allows 8 hours, 46 minutes downtime per year.
  • Two nines or 99% availability allows 3 days, 15 hours and 40 minutes downtime per year.
  • One nine or 9% availability means the storage appliance tagged with this percentage of availability allows over 332 days of downtime per year. That means, only the appliance will be available for 30 days or 1 month on an exact note.

Data efficiency features- One of the primary use cases of a high-end enterprise SAN array is storage consolidation of massive amounts of data, so any feature that can save physical storage can provide significant cost savings. So, a SAN appliance which is being offered should support features like data deduplication, data compression and thin provisioning.

Storage management, data protection and integration- Almost all SAN products available in the data storage market provide a GUI-based management application and command line interface support. Synchronous and asynchronous replication support is indispensable in high-end enterprise SAN arrays, and all the roundup products support both types of replication. From an integration perspective, integrations with VMware APIs are most prevalent and VMware’s vStorage APIs for Array Integration and vStorage APIs for Storage Awareness are supported by all products.

To get help while selecting an enterprise SAN solution call 510 265 1122 or click on DNF Corporation web page

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