Enterprise Storage Server: What is the difference between NAS and SAN

Enterprise Storage Server: What is the difference between NAS and SAN

In every business, different people need to access the same data. For this, you need a special storage system, called a storage server, on your network. NAS and SAN servers do that. But the two choices differ far more than just the order of letters. How is the difference in the practice of expressing themselves and what are the better choices for your company, you will find it on our IT blog!

SAN and NAS technology is a storage media technology that is related to the network, and represents storage and network technology. A SAN is a dedicated network for storage and host equipment, which is separate from the LAN / WAN in the company. SANs are designed to handle large amounts of data traffic between servers and storage devices, and separate backup bandwidth that is bandwidth intensive from normal LAN / WAN traffic. Other benefits of SAN include increasing connectivity between servers and storage equipment, as well as centralized data management. NAS is a dedicated file server, connected to the network.

NAS uses LAN protocols such as Ethernet and TCP / IP, which allows NAS to escape the limitations that exist in SCSI technology. Some NAS products, such as the Network Appliance Filer and Auspex server are storage devices, and are connected directly to messaging networks or public networks. NAS products tend to be optimized for file server usage only. Each approach resembles its own advantages, the general consensus shows that SAN represents future storage media relations. NAS equipment will certainly continue to carry out their specific functions, but the trend indication shows that data-centric organizations will migrate towards the SAN model.

NAS (Network Attached Storage): A flexible basic solution for companies

NAS is basically nothing more than a computer on a network that functions as a pure data store. Connect via a router, switch or directly to a computer and function as external storage. Therefore, NAS is referred to as network-bound storage.

The big advantage is that you don't need to store certain data in multiple copies on all devices on the network. Through the corporate network, all PCs, laptops and smartphones access network storage. It works remotely and from a distance.

Integration into the network is also the biggest weakness of NAS: Data transfer speed is related to network connection speed. For this reason, it takes a while for users to access files to load larger or large files.

For what NAS server is suitable? 

  • NAS theoretically can also take on tasks other than pure storage functions. Because it is a normal computer in principle, it can, depending on the equipment by the manufacturer, function as a network node or mail server or provide additional computing power.
  • As an external storage, NAS is a good place to backup, archive, and backup.
  • Small businesses rarely need the functionality of a larger solution. For Office files, letters or images, the data transfer speed is quite easy.

SAN (Storage Area Network): Strong storage for large networks 

SAN servers are not individual devices, but are always special hardware networks. They are based on individual server blocks that exchange. This allows many users to access data simultaneously - without the need for a cloud connection. SANs function fully offline and therefore do not depend on the limitations of an Internet connection. This allows faster data exchange on the network. Many SAN systems use Fiber Channel networks, which allow very fast transfers. Even very large files such as videos, 3D models or multimedia files are available in a few milliseconds at the employee's work station. If you go further, you will go to SDS (Software Defined Storage), for example with VMware vSAN.

By using vSAN you have many possibilities to build an efficient system. Expanding as a hyperconvergent system is one of the possibilities offered by vSAN. More information about HCI (Hyperconverged Infrastructure) can be found in our product portfolio.

This brings us to the biggest disadvantage of this storage system: SAN networks are very expensive and complex. You need someone in the company who can manage this server - or a good external partner.

What is the SAN network storage for? 

  • It is suitable for large companies with more than 30 employees: very fast file access, even on large networks with many users.
  • The best alternative if your company works with applications that are very computing intensive and large file formats.
  • Bandwidth is shared fairly among all users, allowing many users to work well together in one location.
  • On SAN networks, exchanges between servers and storage take place without overloading normal networks.
  • SAN servers can be expanded and equipped with new features, which are important for business growth.
  • With a good IT team, installation and operation is not a big loss, but offers many individual choices.

Overview of differences: NAS vs SAN

 NAS (Storage Attached Network)

  • Usually used in private networks and small businesses with up to 20 workstations relatively cheap in purchasing and entertainment easily managed and controlled
  • Storage space can be expanded, but only to a certain extent
  • Very much depends on network speed can be easily integrated into existing IT architectures individual components on a cheap NAS server can fail suitable for simple office applications and image storage

SAN (Storage Area Network)

  • Use in unlimited size networks, where many users need to access certain data at the same time higher costs for maintenance, operation and hardware requires an administrator to monitor the installation
  • Storage space is scalable and expanded data connection is very fast and stable requires changes in IT architecture built from the ground up in an excessive and fail-safe manner suitable for demanding applications or for higher performance requirements

Conclusion: An integrated solution for data storage in the company

To summarize the differences: NAS is usually a relatively inexpensive entry-level system that is suitable for use in small businesses. You don't need extensive care, but it's ready to use. But they don't perform well and work a little slower, which is especially noticeable when you use sophisticated software and process many large files. SAN servers are more complex and require special personnel to be reasonable. Theoretically you can request unlimited amounts of data at very high speeds - even if many people work with them simultaneously. Therefore this storage system is used mainly in large networks. This means higher costs and a higher administrative burden.