Data Storage Options: SAN vs. NAS

Acronyms are a part of life in the world of information technology.  Two current ones that relate to data storage choices are SAN and NAS.

Storage Area Networks

SAN refers to a "storage area network" and indicates a data storage solution in which the ports on the device that stores data are shared by using switching technology.  In essence, this produces a situation in which each port can be accessed by more than one physical device such as a server.  Before SAN was developed, there was a one-to-one relationship between servers and ports; it was not possible to grant access for multiple servers to use the same storage device.

SAN, then, is somewhat similar to a virtualization approach in that the ports on the storage device now grant servers virtual rather than physical access.

SAN is considered a "low latency" type of storage.  This makes it ideal for structured data such as that generated by database programs.  These kinds of data need storage that offers high performance.

Network Attached Storage

NAS refers to "network attached storage”.  In some ways, it is the next step forward in data storage IT solutions because new NAS options feature better latency and performance.  Some enterprises may decide that NAS has improved so much that they do not need SAN for their database data, for example.

Both SAN and NAS are appropriate storage options when virtualized servers are in use, and both can be administered as part of a managed program approach to providing IT services.

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