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What are the advantages of SAN over NAS?

What are the major benefits of SAN that result in businesses choosing it over NAS? Do you think SAN is generally better than NAS, or is it just a dependent on the use case?

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22 Answers

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NAS has no upfront investments, you can use standard NICs in your servers, segment NAS traffic etc... and you  might want to reuse your current switch infra. Still it is recommended to use a separate from LAN infra and use a larger MTU size (for jumbo frames). In the past , the density of VMs on a NAS solution compared to the SAN , for a given latency was lower. 

SAN has by default network isolation as it uses seperate from LAN ,SAN switches. It comes at a higher cost however and Server HBAs are more expensive. One does require the skillset, as the Fabric OS and its flow control mechanism is quite different from managing Cisco/HP/Juniper switches. FC SAN is considered faster, and due to the higher initial costs, tends to be seen at most at larger organisations, likely taking up 80% or more of the storage infra in those organsitations. Currently for some use cases S3 object Storage is changing the game. Traditional SANs for backups (especially longterm archived data) are now loosing ground in favour of S3 Object Storage. 

VMware : NFS 4.1 does not support Storage DRS, there is no support for Site Recovery Manager (NFS3 does) , no Storage IO Control. One of the most significant changes in v4.1 was adding multipath, by introducing better performance and availability through load balancing and multipathing. 

Historically, SAN was the native initial VMware platform, and the so called VAAI primitives were initially only avaialble on SAN Storage Arrays. Thats why FC SAN is the traditional storage platform for VMware. After some time NAS stood up, and closed the gaps (Mainly Netapp did) , but the use case for a NAS is CIFS/SMB and NFS services for the applications and not to run VMs on NFS volumes. Some microsoft clusters modes, are not operable on a NAS solution as well. 


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It is dependent on use case. Generally NAS is used to store file level data and SAN is used to store block level data. Like for storing data like word Excel files NAS is used and SAN is used to store data from database applications. There are unified storages to store both file and block level data. Also SAN has more better bandwidth and better performance due to connectivity like fibre up to 32 Gbps and NAS has connectivity on network or LAN up to 10Gbps.

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