Difference between SAN and NAS

What is the difference between SAN and NAS ? #

At the initial instance SAN and NAS might seem to be mirror images of each other, infact in most cases any would work in a given situation as both usually use RAID connected to a network which is later backed-up. But a typical difference between SAN and NAS is that, a NAS is a single storage device which operates on data files, whereas SAN is a local network of multiple devices which operate on disk blocks .

Most of the computing systems which can be connected to the Local Area Network or a LAN through WAN would use NFS, CIFS or HTTP protocol to get connected to a NAS for sharing of data. But inorder to get connected to a SAN, the server class devices with the SCSI Fibre Channel is required. Such a Fibre Channel of the SAN has a limitation of around 10km at best A NAS recognizes data by file name and byte offsets, transfers file data or file meta-data, and handles security, user authentication, file locking A SAN addresses data by disk block number and transfers raw disk blocks.

The administrator of a home or small business network holds the capability of connecting a NAS device to their Local Area Network. The NAS retains its own IP address comparable to computer and other TCP/IP devices. With the use of a software program which is usually provided with the NAS hardware, a network administrator can set-up either automatic or manual backups and file copies between the NAS and all other devices in the network. The NAS can store data of few gigabytes to a few terabytes. Simply with the installation of additional NAS devices to the network, administrators can increase the storage capacity. Every NAS has an independent characteristic of operability.

The web hosting server administrators managing bigger networks might need many terabytes of centralized file storage or much faster file transfer operations. Where it is practically not feasible to install multiple NAS devices, administrators can alternatively opt with installation of a single SAN, which contains  high performance disk array to offer the expected scalability and performance. Special skills and equally important ample knowledge is required for configuring and maintaining the SANs.

The NAS offers better information sharing capabilities especially between disparate OS’s such as Unix and NT. File Sharing depends mainly on the operating system and cannot be achieved with most OS. File System managed by NAS head unit File System managed by servers Backups and mirrors (utilizing features like NetApp’s Snapshots) are done on files, not blocks, for a savings in bandwidth and time. A Snapshot can be tiny as compared to its source volume


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