Difference Between SAN and NAS (With Table)

The storage provision in a computer or local storage is not enough for most organizations or home offices. This is where SAN and NAS come into use. Such storage systems enable more storage, security, access to multiple people, and make data access even faster. There are multiple benefits for SAN and NAS. These are cost-effective options to consider for business purposes. According to requirements, users can choose either of them.

SAN vs NAS

The difference between SAN and NAS is that the provision for storage is entirely different. While NAS provides file-based data storage, SAN gives block-level access to files. Server consolidation, low cost, and simple setup make NAS an ideal choice for small-scale storage. Whereas SAN gives fast data access, reduces pressure on LAN, and high expansion choices to its users.

 SAN is a storage unit made up of many disks that are connected to the server using a special network. Direct access to the stored data is given to all the users. With correct configuration, SAN is the best option for fast data access. Users should be aware of block protocols, switches, fiber optics, and their management. This system is the best to store customer data for any host.

NAS has many hard disks used according to different needs. It is a shared network. The head units, like the CPU, manage the files. It uses NFS or CIFS protocols. Since it is dependent on LAN, without a power supply to the LAN, it doesn’t work. Redundant data structures give data security in NAS.

Comparison Table Between SAN and NAS

Parameters of ComparisonSANNAS
UseLarge business or organizationsRelatively small businesses and home offices
VirtualizationWorks with virtualizationDoesn’t work with virtualization
PriceExpensiveLess expensive
Data-processingBlock-levelFile-level
ManagementRequires high administrationEasily manageable

What is SAN?

A storage area network is a computer network. It gives access to block-level data storage. The data in SAN will be shown as a local disk in the devices attached to it. It is a dedicated storage device that cannot be accessed through LAN. SAN combines servers, storage systems, switches, software, and services.

The shared pools of storage are helpful for higher-level organizations as there is an array of storage expansion opportunities. The flexibility and control of SAN make it popular among large-scale businesses. The storage offered by SAN is centrally managed and secured. It can hold hundreds and thousands of disks. 

Two types of networking technologies are used in SAN: Fibre Channel and iSCSI. Fibre channel or FC has high throughput and lower latency. While ISCSI can operate on the ethernet LAN and operates on a concept of initiators and targets.

SAN connects various servers with storage and manages it all in one place. It has three layers: host layer, storage layer, and fabric layer. The host layer shows the attached servers to the SAN. While the storage layer consists of several storage pools and types. The fabric layer is where the cabling and network devices interconnect.

This system follows different protocols like FCP, ATA, and IFCP. These protocols ensure effective communication through all the layers. The advantage of SAN is that it boosts the speed of LAN and gives high performance, improves data security, and allows streamlined backup. According to the needs, one can advance the facilities.

What is NAS?

Network-attached storage is a storage option that enables data access to multiple people. It is a computer data storage server. It connects to a network. So people who have access to the network can access the files easily. This enables sharing files easily with a group of clients. NAS connects with computers, laptops, or mobile devices. 

The data stored in NAS can be retrieved using a centralized disk capacity. The multiple users access the data using a standard ethernet connection. This device does not have a specific display or keyboard of its own. It is managed using a browser-based utility. 

NAS storage is preferred by small business owners and home offices due to its low cost and accessibility. It handles unstructured data. It is a kind of personal cloud system. NAS is a computer appliance that has many storage drives arranged into redundant storage containers. Sharing protocols like NFS, SMB, or AFP are applied in file access.

Three types of NAS are manufactured: computer-based NAS, embedded-system-based NAS, and ASIC-based NAS. The benefits of NAS are that users don’t have to plug in a USB to transfer files, and many people can access the data simultaneously. The centralized backup location enables greater access. There is more storage facility in a NAS. The speed of the NAS is determined by the network ports, RAID configuration, and type of disks used.

Main Differences Between SAN and NAS

  1. SAN is used in big businesses and enterprises. While NAS is used by relatively small business owners or by home offices.
  2. SAN is more expensive and needs more administration. But NAS is of less cost, and it is easier to set up.
  3. The data stored in SAN is accessed like a local drive. In NAS, the data is attached to the network drive.
  4. NAS connects with the Ethernet network and gives access to the data to all devices connected in the same network. On the other hand, SAN requires a fiber channel connection.
  5. The file system in SAN is controlled by server handles, while in NAS, it is controlled by the head system.
  6. SAN offers high-speed using the fiber channel. But NAS is dependent on the ethernet network.

Conclusion

There are a lot of differences in SAN and NAS, even though the purpose is similar. They use different protocols, data processing, and fabric. The scalability and expansion requirements are taken into account before selecting either of the storage systems. The key takeaway is that NAS is cheap and easier to maintain. It is the best choice for general purposes. But SAN is expensive and hard to assemble. In the long run, it is beneficial for high performance. The behavior of SAN is more predictable, and users can control it. NAS is prone to Ethernet issues. The limited resources for NAS reduces scalability options. Low speed is another demerit of NAS. SAN is not so supported due to its complexity and initial high expense.

References

  1. https://en.cnki.com.cn/Article_en/CJFDTotal-JSJC200319064.htm
  2. https://dl.acm.org/doi/fullHtml/10.1145/353360.353362?casa_token=rB_SoqpYR8AAAAAA:wTRC6BgxkC8S4ctLXSb9DKmhsQIeVF9HEKXcoGomjo2NiBuqkfLV1gK07dSPBvbWIQdP9yztkajRNA
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