Network Storage is one of the most important aspects of a computer network. In a physical server environment, storage is where all the shared network data and resources reside. In a virtual environment, not only is all shared data stored there, but all the virtual server instances are also running off the storage as well.

It is imperative that the correct size and type of storage is chosen for each particular need. There are many different options to choose from – internal storage, external hard drives, NAS devices, SAN appliances, etc. Based on your needs and your environment, we can assist in making sure you correctly identify the type and amount of storage you need.

Network-Attached Storage (NAS)

Network-attached storage (NAS) is hard disk storage that is set up with its own network address rather than being attached to the department computer that is serving applications to a network’s workstation users. By removing storage access and its management from the department server, both application programming and files can be served faster because they are not competing for the same processor resources. The network-attached storage device is attached to a local area network.

Storage Area Network (SAN)

A storage area network (SAN) is any high-performance network whose primary purpose is to enable storage devices to communicate with computer systems and with each other.

What is different about a SAN?

Computers are already connected to storage today, but are all of an installation’s computers connected to all of its storage? That’s the key point about SANs—they connect lots of computers to lots of storage devices, enabling the computers to negotiate device ownership among themselves and, ideally, to share data. If there is one defining characteristic of a SAN, it’s universal connectivity of storage devices and computers.

A SAN must be highly available. A single SAN connecting all computers to all storage puts a lot of enterprise information accessibility eggs into one basket. The SAN had better be pretty indestructible or the enterprise could literally be out of business. A good SAN implementation will have built-in protection against just about any kind of failure imaginable.

The I/O performance of a SAN must grow or scale as the number of interconnected devices grows. If a SAN interconnects a lot of computers and a lot of storage, it had better be able to deliver the performance they all need to do their respective jobs simultaneously. A good SAN delivers both high data transfer rates and low I/O request latency. Moreover, the SAN’s performance must be able to grow as the organization’s information storage and processing needs grow. As with other enterprise networks, it just isn’t practical to replace a SAN very often.

When designing a SAN to access critical enterprise data, make sure the SAN is highly available (i.e., can survive failures of both components in it and components attached to it) and make sure it can grow well beyond anticipated peak performance needs without disruption.

Ask 7 Layer IT Solutions which SAN or NAS solution is the best fit for your organization now, and down the road. Our team will identify current needs, growth rates and other variables which will help us determine the best storage setup for your environment.