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Definition: A storage area network (SAN) is a type of local area network (LAN) designed to handle large data transfers. A SAN typically supports data storage, retrieval and replication on business networks using high-end servers, multiple disk arrays and Fibre Channel interconnection technology.

SAN technology is similar but distinct from network attached storage (NAS) technology. While SANs traditionally employ low-level network protocols for transfering disk blocks, a NAS device typically works over TCP/IP and can be integrated fairly easily into home computer networks.

The term SAN can sometimes refer to system area networks instead of a storage area network. System area networks are clusters of high performance computers used for distributed processing applications requiring fast local network performance. Storage area networks, on the other, are designed specifically for data management.

Also Known As: Storage Area Network, System Area Network

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