When building a storage network, your basic decision is SAN vs. NAS. The choice will impact how you access your data.

You must think about your network that is right for you is critical to providing the right level of capability without overburdening your business

  • Speed requirements
  • Size
  • Remote locations
  • Security
  • Flexibility

But matching speed and capacity criteria with both choices allows you to maximise your returns on both investments.

Options for SAN connectivity are TCP/IP, WAN, Fibre Channel, iSCSI and FCoE.

SAN or NAS: Ways to Connect Your Data

DAS [Direct Attached Storage]: Simplest storage solution.

Good option for small/micro businesses but it is basically an external hard drive. Importantly, there is no network capability. It is just cheap and simple. It can be either SSD or HDD hardware like your SAN or NAS network.

NAS [Network Attached Storage]:  Next level up Storage.

NAS uses TCP/IP networking offers remote access to file sharing and scalability goes through your router. It requires limited infrastructure investment and has great flexibility when communicating between remote locations. Also has limited network connectivity speeds.

Functionally, NAS can be configured to operate as a private cloud. It allows your business to centrally store data, access that data from different locations remotely and easily allow file sharing between different operating systems.

NAS generally uses file level storage. This means that the data is presented in the same format to both the system storing it and system retrieving it. This is great for basic usage but is limiting in large and complex networks.

SAN [Storage Area Network]:  premium solution.

It provides a dedicated network capable of moving large chunks of data between different servers and devices with a high level of speed and security.

The primary difference between a SAN and NAS is their connectivity infrastructure and how other devices communicate with them.

Basically, SAN operates over a dedicated network which increases speed and reliability.

SANs operate using block level storage. Block level storage allows data to be segregated into blocks or LUNs [Logical Unit Numbers].

Blocks can be controlled as individual virtual hard drives, but are still part of a single pool of resources.

You can connect multiple servers to your SAN, designate particular tasks or access capabilities, and still use excess capacity from any given server to aid processes undertaken by separate servers.

  • SANs are optimised for hosting virtual machines or other special applications because of the ability to segregate demands on processing power and accommodate multiple formatting systems.
  • SANs maximum scalability, flexibility and the utilisation of resources in a large enterprise-level environment. However, they cost more to set up and are more complicated to manage.

How to Hook Up a SAN?

Options for SAN connectivity are

  • TCP/IP
  • WAN
  • Fibre Channel
  • iSCSI
  • FCoE