What is SAN in HP?

A Storage Area Network (SAN) is a specialized, high-speed network that provides access to consolidated, block-level storage. SANs are primarily used to enhance storage devices accessibility for servers so that the devices appear to the operating system as locally attached drives (source).

SANs are designed to provide high-speed data transfer, scalability, and redundancy between servers and storage devices. They utilize their own network of storage devices that are connected using interconnect elements such as high-speed Fibre Channel switches, hubs and bridges. The main benefits of a SAN include:

  • Improved scalability and flexibility for storage resources
  • Increased availability of stored data
  • Better performance and data transfer speeds
  • Enhanced organizational collaboration capabilities

Overall, SAN technology offers consolidated storage and simplified storage management by connecting multiple servers and storage devices over a fast network dedicated solely to storage communication (source).

SAN in HP Servers

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) offers a comprehensive portfolio of storage area network (SAN) solutions including storage systems, switches, directors, and management software to meet various business needs (https://www.hpe.com/us/en/storage/networking.html).

For SAN hardware, HPE provides Fibre Channel and iSCSI storage arrays, SAN switches and directors to build high-performance SAN fabrics. Some of HPE’s popular SAN switch models include B-series, C-series and S-series switches that offer high port density, low latency and enterprise reliability (https://www.hpe.com/us/en/storage/networking.html).

In terms of SAN management software, HPE offers SAN management solutions like HPE OneView and HPE OneSphere to simplify storage management across diverse environments. HPE OneView provides automated SAN zoning and provisioning while HPE OneSphere delivers unified management across on-prem and public cloud resources (http://h10032.www1.hp.com/ctg/Manual/c00094271.pdf).

Additionally, HPE provides pre-designed and pre-configured SAN solutions like HPE Complete and HPE Nimble dHCI to accelerate deployment. With a wide range of SAN products and solutions focused on performance, scalability and ease of management, HPE offers comprehensive SAN capabilities for enterprise environments (https://www.hpe.com/us/en/storage/networking.html).


Fibre Channel SAN (FC SAN) is a high-speed network technology primarily used for storage networking. It provides a dedicated, high-bandwidth network for connecting servers and storage devices. FC SAN allows multiple servers to access shared storage as if it were directly attached to the servers. Real-World Requirements from Fibre Channel HBAs.

The main components of an FC SAN architecture include:

  • Fibre Channel switches – FC switches create the SAN fabric and enable servers to connect to storage devices.
  • Host bus adapters (HBAs) – HBAs provide the interface between the server and the FC network.
  • Storage devices – Storage arrays and drives that connect to the FC SAN.
  • Cabling – Fiber optic cables connect SAN components.

FC SAN uses Fibre Channel protocol for communication. It provides high bandwidth, low latency connectivity and supports long distances. FC SAN is ideal for deploying shared storage with multiple servers in data centers. With FC SAN, storage appears local to servers while being shared over the network. Beginner’s Guide to Storage Area Networks.


Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) is an encapsulation protocol that allows Fibre Channel traffic to be transported over Ethernet networks. FCoE allows organizations to consolidate Fibre Channel and Ethernet network traffic onto a single converged network, reducing cabling and switching infrastructure costs.

Some of the key benefits of FCoE SAN include:

  • Convergence of LAN and SAN networks onto Ethernet, reducing cabling requirements. According to this article, FCoE as an edge only architecture can provide significant cost savings on cabling.
  • Compatibility with existing Fibre Channel investments and management tools. FCoE uses the same Fibre Channel protocol as native Fibre Channel.
  • High performance with low latency, meeting the demands of Fibre Channel workloads.
  • Simplified management with a single network technology (Ethernet) across LAN and SAN.

With FCoE, Fibre Channel traffic is encapsulated over Ethernet networks, allowing both types of traffic to converge onto a single network. This convergence simplifies networking requirements and cabling, while retaining the reliability and performance characteristics of Fibre Channel for SAN connectivity.


iSCSI (Internet Small Computer System Interface) SAN is a storage area network protocol that allows block-level access over IP networks. iSCSI uses TCP/IP protocols to enable block-level data transfers between servers and storage devices over standard Ethernet networks.

The main components of an iSCSI SAN architecture include initiators, targets, and portals. Initiators are client servers that initiate requests to storage devices. Targets are storage devices that receive requests. Portals are points that allow connections between initiators and targets.

Some key pros of iSCSI SAN include:

  • Lower cost since it leverages existing Ethernet networks
  • Easy to deploy and configure
  • Can extend SANs over longer distances using WANs

Some cons of iSCSI SAN include:

  • Performance limitations compared to Fibre Channel SANs
  • More susceptible to network congestion
  • Less mature protocol and ecosystem

“The allure of iSCSI is easy to understand. Whereas an FC SAN requires dedicated infrastructure, iSCSI SANs can leverage an existing Ethernet network.” (https://www.cio.com/article/258402/data-warehousing-storage-which-technology-should-you-choose.html)

SAN Zoning and LUN Masking

SAN zoning and LUN masking are key security and access control mechanisms used in storage area networks (SANs). Zoning defines which SAN resources (servers, storage arrays, switches, etc.) can communicate with each other. LUN masking controls which hosts have access to which LUNs (logical unit numbers), representing storage volumes on the SAN.

Some key benefits of SAN zoning and LUN masking include:

  • Isolating traffic and restricting access between servers and storage (e.g. limiting production servers’ access to test environment storage)
  • Improving performance by reducing irrelevant traffic on the SAN
  • Enhancing security by preventing unauthorized hosts from accessing sensitive storage
  • Simplifying management with logical groups of resources rather than managing connections individually

Zoning is implemented on the SAN fabric, typically using switch port configurations or network addressing. LUN masking is configured at the storage system level to map LUNs to specific server HBAs or WWPNs. Zoning provides coarse-level isolation while LUN masking enables more precise control over individual LUN accessibility.

Best practices include using soft zoning which can be easily changed, testing zones before deployment, zoning by SAN switch or logical grouping, and masking LUNs consistently across storage ports. Overall, SAN zoning and LUN masking allow creating secure, controlled access for efficient storage utilization.

SAN Management

SAN management refers to the tools and processes for configuring, monitoring, and optimizing a storage area network. Some key challenges with SAN management include complexity from multi-vendor environments, scalability as capacity grows, and maintaining performance with increasing workloads [1]. SAN management software and SAN automation tools aim to help IT teams get better visibility and control over their storage infrastructure.

Best practices for SAN management include:

  • Using zoning to partition SANs into logical groups for security and management
  • Carefully planning LUN assignments and masking to allocate storage capacity
  • Monitoring SAN performance metrics like IOPS and latency
  • Balancing workloads across SAN resources
  • Choosing RAID configurations to optimize capacity versus redundancy
  • Setting thresholds and alerts for utilization and performance
  • Following a structured change management process

Advanced SAN management software provides features like automated provisioning, anomaly detection, forecasting, and multi-fabric visibility. Overall, effective SAN management maximizes performance and availability while minimizing risks.[1]

SAN Security

Protecting SAN data from security threats and breaches is critical for enterprises using SAN storage. Some key areas of SAN security include:

Data protection – SAN data should be encrypted both when stored (at rest) and in transit between clients and storage. Data protection algorithms like RAID can provide redundancy against disk failures. Backups should be implemented for disaster recovery. (https://www.enisa.europa.eu/publications/nfv-security-in-5g-challenges-and-best-practices/@@download/fullReport)

Authentication and access control – Access to the SAN should be restricted through zoning, LUN masking, and authentication using technologies like FC-SP/DH-CHAP. Strong passwords should be enforced. Multifactor authentication can provide an extra layer of protection.

Encryption – SAN traffic should be encrypted end-to-end, using IPsec for iSCSI SANs and FC-SP encryption for Fibre Channel. Key management is critical for encryption to be effective.

Vulnerability management – Regular scans should check for vulnerabilities in SAN devices, firmware, drivers and management interfaces. Patching and upgrades should be applied promptly.

Logging and auditing – Detailed logs of all access and changes to the SAN should be kept to detect attacks. Logs should be reviewed regularly.

With the massive amounts of sensitive data stored on SANs, enterprises must take a defense-in-depth approach to secure every layer of the infrastructure. New techniques like blockchain are also emerging to bolster SAN security. (Paradi, J.C. 2010. Storage area network (SAN) security. U.S. Patent 7,437,753.)


SAN and NAS are two types of data storage systems that are often compared. While both provide access to storage over a network, there are some key differences between the two technologies (Source):

SAN stands for Storage Area Network. It provides block-level access to storage that is connected to servers. This makes SAN extremely fast, highly scalable, and optimized for performance. SAN systems connect servers directly to storage resources using technologies like Fibre Channel and iSCSI. SAN storage appears to servers as locally attached drives or LUNs (logical unit numbers). SAN is best suited for mission-critical applications that require high performance and low latency (Source).

NAS stands for Network Attached Storage. It provides file-level access to storage over a standard Ethernet network, making it easy to share files between multiple computers and users. NAS appears to clients as file shares that can utilize standard network file sharing protocols like NFS, SMB, and AFP. NAS systems are optimized more for simplicity and consolidated storage than pure performance. NAS is well-suited for shared storage and collaboration use cases.

In summary, SAN is best when performance and scalability are critical, while NAS excels at consolidated file sharing and storage. SAN connects servers directly to storage while NAS storage connects over a standard network. When deciding between SAN vs NAS, consider your performance needs, scalability requirements, and use cases.


In summary, SAN (Storage Area Network) is a network architecture that provides block-level storage access to servers. It enables consolidation of storage resources and centralized management while providing high performance and scalable storage infrastructure. The key concepts in SAN include network topology, protocols like Fibre Channel, FCoE, iSCSI, components like HBAs, switches, and storage arrays. SAN also employs techniques like zoning and LUN masking for access control.

Over the years, SAN technology has evolved tremendously with new standards, increasing adoption of all-flash storage, and convergence with other networking infrastructures. Continued innovation in software-defined storage, NVMe-oF, persistent memory, and machine learning is shaping the future of SAN. The goals remain to build agile, automated, resilient, and secure SAN infrastructure with reduced complexity and costs. Overall, SAN will continue to be the preferred enterprise storage architecture for mission-critical applications demanding high performance, scalability and availability.


[1] https://www.opensourceforu.com/2024/01/role-of-open-source-in-designing-san-and-nas-systems/

[2] https://thetechspirit.com/simple-storage-network/