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Overview: What is SAN and NAS

This post was last Updated on November 24, 2022 by Himanshu Tyagi to reflect the accuracy and up-to-date information on the page.

The issue of making stored data accessible to several users simultaneously was addressed by the development of Network Attached Storage (NAS) and Storage Area Network (SAN). Each offers a set of users dedicated storage, but they couldn’t be more unlike in how they go about accomplishing their goals.

An Ethernet network serves data from a single storage device called a NAS, which is affordable and straightforward to set up. While SAN is a more expensive, complex, and challenging device to design and administer, it is a closely connected network of many devices that deal with data on a block basis.

The primary distinction between SAN and NAS from the user’s perspective is that NAS devices employ protocols like NFS and SMB/CIFS and seem like volumes on a file server, whereas SAN-attached disks appear to the user as local drives.

An outline of the variations between NAS and SAN may be seen below. We’ll also quickly look at NAS and SAN hybrid systems that provide many extra advantages of SAN without the high expense.

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Network Attached Storage (NAS)

A NAS is a computer linked to a network and offers other networked devices file-based storage services. The most significant benefit of a NAS is how simple it is to deploy and set up.

The user sees NAS volumes as network-attached volumes. Usually, served data are organized into logical redundant storage containers, or RAIDs, on one or more storage drives.

The hardware is a network node, similar to PCs and other TCP/IP devices, in that it has its IP address and can successfully connect with other network hardware.

NAS providers and other parties are increasingly selling alternative software to give server capabilities on a NAS, even though a NAS is not usually meant to be used as a general-purpose server.

When working together on projects or exchanging information, NAS systems make data accessible to many people in various places. The NAS allows non-IT professionals to manage and regulate access to data and offers effective access control and security to promote cooperation.

It also offers strong basic data security by using redundant data structures, frequently RAID, and automated backup services to local devices and the cloud.

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NAS Benefits

NAS is frequently the next step for a home office or small business that employs DAS (Direct Attached Storage). The need to exchange information locally and remotely, 24/7 file availability, data redundancy, the ability to replace and upgrade system hard drives, and the availability of other services like automated backups spurred the switch to NAS.

Summary of benefits of NAS:

  • Relatively inexpensive
  • 24/7 and remote data availability
  • Good extensibility
  • Redundant Storage Architecture
  • Automatic backup to other devices and the cloud
  • Configuration flexibility
  • Network Attached Storage (NAS)
  • NAS Restrictions

Scale and performance are two areas where NAS falls short. The server might be unable to keep up as more users try to access it, necessitating more server resources. The characteristics of Ethernet itself are a further disadvantage.

Ethernet transfers data from one location to another through packets by nature, breaking up the source into many segments and transferring them to the destination. All of these packets have the potential to be delayed or transmitted out of order, and the user may not have access to any of them until they have all been delivered and returned in the correct sequence.

In demanding situations like video creation, where files are pretty big and delays of more than a few milliseconds might interfere with production procedures like rendering, any delay (slow or repeated connections) is typically not observed by consumers for small files.

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Storage Area Network (SAN)

Users can share aggregated block-level data storage using SAN, enabling extremely high-performance simultaneous access to files by numerous clients. By giving users the impression that storage devices like disk arrays and tape libraries are external hard drives on their local system, the SAN improves access to storage equipment like these.

SAN offers the fastest access speed possible for storage media and mission-critical data by supplying a dedicated storage area network for block data access through high-speed Fiber

Channels and bypassing the restrictions of TCP/IP protocols and LAN congestion. A SAN is often utilized by large organizations and requires administration by the IT team because it is significantly more complicated and expensive than a NAS.

This is especially ideal for specific applications like video editing because of its fast speed and minimal latency. A benefit of a SAN is that it allows for the fair and prioritized use of network bandwidth needed for video editing.

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SAN Benefits

The fundamental advantage of a SAN is that all file access negotiation takes place over Ethernet, and files are provided through a swift Fiber Channel, giving client workstations very high performance even for huge files. Because of this, SANs are frequently utilized in group settings for video editing nowadays.

SAN benefits summary:

  • High-speed data access
  • A dedicated storage network relieves the load on the local network
  • Highly expandable
  • OS level (block level) file access
  • High quality of service for demanding applications such as video editing

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SAN Restrictions

The cost and administrative needs of a SAN may be used to summarize its complexity; for example, it may be expensive to install a Fiber Channel network and to devote and maintain a separate Ethernet network for requests for metadata files.

SAN can expand to accommodate hundreds of users concurrently and is essentially the only solution to deliver rapid access to data for a sizable number of users.

SAN-like devices are becoming more affordable because of certain manufacturers’ efforts to capitalize on the advantages of SANs and avoid the high cost of Fiber Channel networks.

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Because of this, NAS and SAN methods to network storage have begun to converge at a lower cost than pure SAN partially.

Fiber Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), which allows block-level transmission across a typical LAN at 10 Gb/s+, is one illustration. Because SCSI commands may be transmitted inside IP packets on the LAN, iSCSI is much more affordable for smaller deployments.

These methods sidestep the pricey Fiber Channel, providing slower but more affordable alternatives to obtain block-level access and other SAN advantages.

Himanshu Tyagi
Himanshu Tyagi
Hello Friends! I am Himanshu, a hobbyist programmer, tech enthusiast, and digital content creator. Founder Cool SaaS Hunter. With CodeItBro, my mission is to promote coding and help people from non-tech backgrounds to learn this modern-age skill!