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What Is a SAN Switch and Its Functionality?

Posted on October 21, 2022 Sara Lewis What Is a SAN Switch and Its Functionality?

Network switches are common types of hardware in computer network environments, allowing for data to be received and forwarded from one device to another. One common form of network switch is the storage area network (SAN) switch, a device capable of connecting servers and shared pools of storage devices for the means of handling traffic and movement between them. With a SAN switch, one can establish high-speed storage networks where thousands of servers are interconnected, all of which are able to access petabyte-scale data. Since their initial debut, SAN switches have been advanced with new features and capabilities, making them useful for various applications. In this blog, we will discuss SAN switches in more detail so that you may have a better idea of how they work.

When procuring SAN switches, it is important to know that they may either fall into the category of Fiber Channel (FC) or Ethernet types. Fiber switches are the most popular of the two, and they may be used with compatible FC technologies. Additionally, they can also be procured in modular or fixed types based on the need of operations. With a fixed switch, the established configuration cannot be changed, meaning that there is no possibility for later expansion. Meanwhile, modular switches are regularly director-class types where a high port count is provided while offering the ability for expansion. If features like zoning and encryption are needed for load balancing and data access control, a director-class switch may be your best bet.
While less common, Ethernet SAN switches do find use in a number of applications. For example, as 10 Gigabit Ethernet technology has risen in availability and popularity, so too has Ethernet-based SAN switches. As compared to Fiber Channel types, Ethernet SAN switches tend to be cheaper and easier to manage in terms of maintenance. Generally, this is because they do not need the various specialized hardware or administrative skills necessary for FC varieties. In addition to this, increased throughput and deployment flexibility can be achieved with 1 Gigabit Ethernet switch ports that are aggregating, presenting another potential benefit.
Despite both switch types being able to manage traffic flow, they can only support their own specific technologies, those being FC and Ethernet respectively. Each switch type itself may also vary in the number of ports offered or maximum port speeds that are able to be handled, making it important that one considers all server architectures, operational requirements, and other necessary specifications that may affect the purchasing decision.
As compared to other network switches, there are ways in which the SAN switch differs. For example, SAN switches are considered managed switches when comparing classifications, meaning that they offer the highest levels of security and control over a network while also having a comprehensive set of features. As such, if your application calls for unmanaged or smart switches, the SAN switch may not be the most optimal choice. Furthermore, SAN switches are also often compared to LAN stitches, both of which operate on Ethernet technologies in some cases. Generally, LAN switches can overlap with Ethernet SANs for some applications, but this is not always true.
Once you have decided upon the type of switches that you require for managing your network, let the experts at ASAP IT Technology help you procure everything you need with competitive pricing and rapid lead times. On our website, we host over 2 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find products that trace back to leading manufacturers we trust, and all are ready for purchase at any time. As you explore our website, make use of our online RFQ service to quickly request quotes on items for your comparisons. Once we have had the chance to review your submission, a member of our staff will reach out in 15 minutes or less to present a customized solution that caters to your needs. Get started today and see why so many customers choose ASAP IT Technology for their operational needs.

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