It’s often hard to distinguish fact from fiction with SANs. With vendors over-promoting what’s possible at the expense of what’s truly practical, hype has become a bit of a habit. What’s missing is a clear view of what customers really need from a SAN. In the customer view of the world, the issues are simple, direct and real: What can I do with SANs that I could not do before? What is the value in terms of my business? What does it cost? How does it work? And where are the hidden liabilities that could hinder scalability, security and management? It’s a view that’s not nearly as fun as churning out hype, but it has much more validity and value from the customer perspective.

In most of the examples that follow, the barometer pressure exerted by hype sharply exceeds the gauge of reality. But in a few poignant instances, the promise may actually undersell the true customer potential. To keep things fair, we’ll take a look at a mix of acronyms, architectures, standards and boxes. And in each instance, we’ll ask the same questions: Is it real? Is it necessary? And is it cost-effective for customers?

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