Close this search box.

Want to Simplify Storage Area Network Design and Enhance Security?


Storage area networks (SANs) offer crucial benefits for organizations with high performance and repository needs. Technological advances over the past few years have made them increasingly accessible, but many businesses still have difficulty implementing them during security assessments. Understanding SAN design best practices can help you avoid these complications.

The Importance of Optimized SAN Design

SANs’ speed and reliability are hard to ignore for businesses with large data volumes. However, subpar design will limit your ability to capitalize on these benefits.

One of SANs’ biggest disadvantages is that they’re often complex. This complexity can make it challenging to identify the root cause of an issue when problems arise, leading to delays and costly responses. Considering how fast response times dramatically lower data breach costs and affected information, those slowdowns can be highly damaging in a security context.

By contrast, a simpler, optimized SAN is easier to secure and offers maximum performance and uptime. Finding and addressing potential issues faster can minimize their impact. The resulting savings will lead to more significant ROIs from your SAN.

SAN Design Best Practices

The need to simplify your SAN may be clear, but how specifically to do so is often less evident. Here are seven SAN design best practices to employ as you structure and implement your network.

Map Your Network as You Build It

A data map is one of the most helpful resources for any analytics process. It’s also an important tool for security assessments or performance checks on a network, so you should prioritize building one as you create your SAN. Do this by mapping your network when constructing it instead of doing it all at once after implementing the SAN.

More than half of all companies don’t know where they store their sensitive data, compounding security and performance issues. Avoid that by writing down what information each part of your SAN carries before transferring anything. Record all interconnections since data can move between locations in a SAN and be in multiple places. This map will make spotting where and how to streamline your network easier.

Design for Scalability

Another important SAN design best practice is to keep scalability in mind. SANs can quickly become expensive if you’re not careful, and one of the key drivers of this expense is failing to plan. Adjusting an existing network to make room for new hardware or storage volumes you didn’t design it for will likely hamper visibility and efficiency in the process.

You can minimize these issues by leaving room to grow in your initial design. Create more storage space and room for future hardware additions. You’ll almost certainly need to expand within a few years at current data growth rates, so it won’t go to waste. Planning where and how to grow lets you add new systems with less disruption, maintaining network simplicity and low costs.

Consider Hardware Limitations and Opportunities

When considering SAN design options, be careful not to overlook hardware. The specific storage media you use significantly impacts how different design choices affect speed, reliability, accessibility and security. Consequently, your storage hardware’s unique limitations or opportunities must play into your network structure decisions.

If your budget allows, high-density media like NVMe can let you store more in less space, decreasing complexity. Inoperability between different products may create unnecessary bottlenecks. Be sure to consider physical interoperability in your data centers, too. Using a consolidated solution instead of juggling multiple vendors can help you better manage your data center.

Consider a Virtual SAN

You may find costs and complexity quickly rising when balancing hardware considerations. Therefore, you may want to opt for a virtual SAN (vSAN) instead of a traditional, hardware-based network. A vSAN uses virtualization, cloud storage and software-defined networking to reduce physical requirements.

Using a vSAN instead of a traditional SAN makes it easier to scale up or down as necessary with minimal disruption and cost. Because they’re more responsive and centralized, lacking any hardware dependencies or inoperability issues, they’re also simpler by default. That built-in simplicity makes security assessments and other testing much easier.

Remove Unnecessary Interconnections

Regardless of what type of SAN you build, avoid unneeded interconnections. Maximum interconnectivity may seem like a SAN design best practice initially, as it provides more flexibility and can prevent bottlenecks. However, the more connections you have, the harder it becomes to identify root causes or map data flow.

Question whether each connection is truly necessary for your operations when building your SAN. You should have some redundancy but keep interconnections to a minimum, especially for more sensitive data. Access reduction improves security in addition to simplifying network management. Insider threats have risen 44% in two years, making lateral movement a bigger concern, but segmentation and restriction prevent it.

Establish and Measure Performance Baselines

After finishing your initial SAN design, be sure to test it. Use automated tools to simulate how data moves throughout the network at different workloads. These tests will reveal any inefficiencies or visibility issues in your network, informing effective changes before deploying your SAN on a larger scale.

Record performance benchmarks once you’re happy with how your SAN performs. Monitor the same KPIs and compare them to these baselines as your company uses the SAN. This regular review process will help identify potential bottlenecks and other issues as they arise, helping you streamline and optimize your SAN over time.

Perform Regular Security Assessments

Similarly, you should include security assessments in your SAN design and review process. Look for gaps and simulate different cyber incidents after each phase in the design process to highlight issues. Identifying problems before bringing sensitive data to your SAN will ensure a higher security standard.

Remember that these assessments shouldn’t end after implementation. Over 450,000 new malware strains emerge daily, and cybercriminals constantly adopt new methods. Because these threats evolve so frequently, your security must do the same. Regular assessments and adjustments will help you stay on top of these developments.

Employ SAN Design Best Practices to Improve Security and Performance

These seven SAN design best practices will help you simplify your network for easier management and security. When these factors are more manageable, you can use a SAN to its fullest potential. Your organization can experience higher responsiveness, improved data availability and increased scalability.


Q: How can I simplify the design of a Storage Area Network (SAN)?

A: To simplify the design of a Storage Area Network (SAN), start by assessing your storage requirements and determining your organization’s specific needs. Consolidate and centralize your storage resources using virtualization and storage pooling technologies. Implement storage management tools with a unified interface for monitoring and configuring your SAN. Streamline connectivity and optimize data flow to minimize complexity and improve overall efficiency.

Q: What are some best practices for enhancing security in a Storage Area Network (SAN)?

A: Enhancing security in a Storage Area Network (SAN) is essential to protect sensitive data. Implement access controls, such as role-based access and authentication mechanisms, to ensure authorized personnel can access the SAN. Encrypt data both at rest and in transit using strong encryption protocols. Regularly update and patch your SAN infrastructure to address security vulnerabilities. Implement monitoring tools to detect and respond to security incidents promptly.

Q: What are the benefits of implementing zoning in a Storage Area Network (SAN)?

A: Implementing zoning in a Storage Area Network (SAN) offers several benefits. Zoning provides logical separation and isolation of devices, improving security by limiting access to specific storage resources. It enhances performance by reducing network congestion and improving data transfer rates. Zoning also simplifies management tasks, allowing for easier troubleshooting and isolating potential issues to specific zones rather than the entire SAN.

Q: How can I ensure high availability and redundancy in a Storage Area Network (SAN)?

A: To ensure high availability and redundancy in a Storage Area Network (SAN), employ technologies such as RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) to protect against disk failures. Implement redundant components, such as dual controllers, power supplies, and network connections, to prevent single points of failure. Configure SAN replication or mirroring to maintain data copies across multiple locations for disaster recovery. Regularly test and monitor the failover and recovery processes to ensure their effectiveness.

Q: What should I consider when scaling a Storage Area Network (SAN)?

A: When scaling a Storage Area Network (SAN), consider future storage needs, performance requirements, and budget constraints. Evaluate the scalability of your SAN infrastructure, including storage arrays, switches, and management tools. Ensure that your SAN design allows for seamless expansion without significant disruptions to ongoing operations. Plan for adequate bandwidth and connectivity to accommodate increased data traffic as the SAN grows. Regularly assess and adjust your SAN design to align with evolving business needs.

2024 Data Center Report
Big Data Center Operations
Big Data Center Operations

Explore our topics