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LAN Switch vs SAN Switch: What Is the Difference?

LAN switch and SAN switch both offer a data communication path but base on different switched fabrics

September 27, 2018

Nowadays, many enterprises begin to build their own storage network systems like Local Area Network (LAN) and Storage Area Network (SAN) to meet ever-lasting demands of data storage performance. LAN is a group of computers and peripheral devices that share a common communications line or wireless link to a server within a distinct geographic area. SAN is a dedicated high-speed network or subnetwork that interconnects and presents shared pools of storage devices to multiple servers. Although LAN switch and SAN switch both provide a data communication path, many differences can be learned when comparing LAN switch vs SAN switch.

What Is LAN Switch and How Does It Work?

LAN switching is a form of packet switching in which the data packets are transferred from one computer to another over the LAN network. LAN switching technology is a vital part of the network design which helps to improve the overall efficiency of LAN and address the existing bandwidth issues. LAN switching includes mainly 4 types: hardware-based Layer 2 switching, Layer 3 switching, Layer 4 switching, and Multi-Layer switching (MLS). All three types of layer switching (2, 3, and 4) are combined in MLS.

LAN switch is an IP-based Ethernet switch that flexibly connects the transmitter and receiver through a network of interconnected ports and links to allow network resources shared by a large number of end-users. LAN switches are packet switches that support multiple simultaneous transmissions, reading the destination address of each frame and forwarding it directly to the port associated with the target device. The LAN switch serves the needs of a group of users and it can share common resources and intercommunicate frequently. Through LAN switch, a great deal of traffic can be confined to relatively small LAN segments and overall LAN congestion can be reduced considerably.

What Is SAN Switch and How Does It Work?

SAN switching is a specialized high-speed network of storage devices and switches connected to computer systems. It physically decouples storage and host to make it possible to transmit data between various storage devices, share data between multiple servers, and back up and restore data rapidly and efficiently.

SAN switch (also called Fiber Channel switch), is a basic SAN component that is based on Ethernet protocol or Fiber Channel protocol. SAN switch can allow administrators to set up path redundancy in the event of path failure from the host server to switch or from the storage array to switch. SAN switch examines the data packet header, determines the origin and destination of computing devices, and sends the packet to the intended storage system.

Differences Between LAN Switch and SAN Switch

LAN switch vs SAN switch can be also regarded as SAN switch vs network switch or fibre channel switch vs ethernet switch. Next, explain some major differences between LAN switch and SAN switch.

Performance

In general, LAN switch uses standard copper and optical interface and runs on IP-based Ethernet. The hardware-based Layer 2 LAN switch has the merits of high data transmission speed and low latency. It performs well in some features, like VoIP, QoS, bandwidth reporting. The Layer 3 LAN switch offers similar functionality as a router. As for the Layer 4 LAN switch, it is an enhanced version of the Layer 3 LAN switch which provides additional applications like Telnet and FTP. Besides, LAN switch can support multiple protocols containing TCP/IP, TCP/UDP, IPX, and Apple Talk. In a word, the LAN switch is an enterprise/advanced switch with the advantages of simple deployment and low cost for your network.

SAN switch is based on the iSCSI storage network and also a combination of Fiber Channel and iSCSI technology. The most vital function is that SAN switch processes a more outstanding storage ability than the LAN switch. SAN switch can also be an Ethernet switch. In the ideal situation, the Ethernet-based SAN switch would be devoted to storage traffic in an Internet Protocol (IP) SAN so as to maintain performance predictability. In the meanwhile, SAN switches can be combined to build large SAN structures that interconnect thousands of servers and storage ports.

Application

LAN switch is available for Token Ring and FDDI networks, which have given way to Ethernet. LAN switch helps to improve the overall efficiency of local area networks and addresses the existing bandwidth issues with the good use of it. A LAN can be used to connect file servers, printers, storage arrays, desktops, and other networked devices, which means that a LAN switch can direct traffic between an assortment of endpoints.

SAN switch is designed for a high-performance network with low latency and lossless data transmission. Also, it specifically designed to handle heavy transaction loads over high-performance Fiber Channel networks. Ideally, SAN switch is dedicated to storage traffic only, whether based on Ethernet or Fibre Channel technologies, and the switch is optimized for that specific purpose.

How to Choose a LAN Switch or SAN Switch?

When we talk about LAN vs SAN, we will inevitably think about how to choose a LAN switch or SAN switch. If you are looking for a switch using a file-sharing protocol like IPX, Apple Talk, then the IP-based LAN switch storage equipment is your best choice. If you are searching for a switch to support fiber channel-based storage, then you can deploy the SAN switch.

FS S3910 series switches are advanced and high-performance Ethernet LAN switches. They support abundant Layer 2+ features, including LACP, STP/RSTP/MSTP, 802.1Q VLAN, port mirroring, RSPAN, ERPS, DHCP snooping, and so on. In addition, FS S3910 series switches can run on the storage network via IP SAN (including IP SAN and FC SAN). Equipping with robust hardware and enhanced stackable functions make them ideal for campus, enterprise networks, and data centers.


Item

S3910-24TS

S3910-24TF

S3910-48TS

1GbE Port 24 24 48
Switching Capacity 128 Gbps 56 Gbps 176 Gbps
Forwarding Rate 96 Mpps 42 Mpps 132 Mpps
Flash Memory 256MB 256MB 256MB
SDRAM 512MB 512MB 512MB
Switch Chip BCM56150 BCM56152 BCM56150
Physical Stacking Up to 4 Devices Up to 4 Devices Up to 4 Devices
MAC Address Table 16K 16K 16K
Jumbo Frames 9,216 9,216 9,216
Airflow Right-to-Left Fanless Right-to-Left
Power Supply 1+1 Redundancy (100-240VAC) 1x Built-in Power Supply (100-240VAC) 1+1 Redundancy (100-240VAC)
Max System Power Consumption 27w 24w 48w

Conclusion

In a word, both LAN switch and SAN switch can provide a communications path for data and storage movement, however, LAN switch is based on IP Ethernet while SAN switch is based on Fiber Channel protocol. When evaluating your LAN or SAN switch, you need to take the performance requirements, supporting protocols, and interface speeds into consideration. If you are still puzzled about choosing the suitable LAN switch or SAN switch, come to FS at any time to access a variety of switching solutions for different applications.

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