SANs Are The Future Of Storage For Insurance
The storage area network has been around for some 30 years, but only now is it emerging as the data storage paradigm of choice in the insurance industry.
According to Chuck Cronin, executive vice president of Pasadena, Calif.-based Synergy 2000–a systems integrator that works in the insurance industry–a prime reason for the boost in SANs popularity is that they are becoming more affordable for smaller companies.
A SAN “is a dedicated, centrally managed, secure information infrastructure that enables any interconnection of servers and storage systems,” according to Somers, N.Y.-based IBM.
The British Computer Society, in a technology briefing, notes that, “the idea is to put all storage in one place and connect it via a fast network This enables central management, security and the balancing of the storage needs of separate computers running different applications.”
SANS have long been the preferred storage method for larger companies, but the technology is reaching the point where it is now affordable for small and mid-sized companies, says Cronin. Until recently, he adds, “you had to have terabytes of data to make it cost effective.”
Unable to afford SANs, smaller companies have turned to “network attached” solutions like RAID (redundant array of inexpensive disks), says Cronin. RAID is a set of two or more hard disks, with a specialized disk controller.
While such systems can store data for individual servers, SANs store and share data in all servers throughout the network and allow access to the data from “anywhere,” Cronin explains.
In the past, a large company that used a SAN would be forced to buy a piece of proprietary software and the software makers hardware in order to get a functional system. “A small implementation would cost $250,000,” he notes.
Thanks to declines in hardware and disk costs, and the “unbundling” of the SAN software and hardware, however, companies like IBM and Hewlett-Packard (Compaq) have been able to sell SAN systems into smaller companies, says Cronin.
He adds that the cost of SAN storage today is “one-fifth” of what it has been in recent years.