A Storage Area Network (SAN) is a consolidated array of hard drives hosted under a shared platform. This architecture allows multiple resources on the network to share the resulting storage volume. Without a SAN architecture, storage volumes become isolated and dedicated to the attached hardware. This constrains the growing economics of inexpensive storage and limits the amount data stored in the collective array.
In the case of a virtualized server environment, a SAN storage structure is recommended and, just as often, hardily demanded. Virtual machines (VM’s) can efficiently be moved and stored in any number of hard disk arrays in various locations on your network if you have the means to manage this growing web of connections. When VM’s are dispersed to different, non-SAN storage locations, the underlying feature set of SAN architecture is ignored and your virtualization infrastructure becomes difficult to manage, backup and expand.