A network attached storage device or NAS is a data storage device connected to a network that provides a central repository for file level data storage. NAS provides a fast, simple and convenient way to store and share files, stream multimedia content or perform data backups across multiple computers. Many NAS units are effectively servers with stripped down operating systems and one or more hard disks, often arranged in a RAID array.
There’s a huge array of NAS devices to choose from with some products aimed at the consumer market and more capable NAS units suitable for SMB and enterprise use. Weigh up the key features to ensure you end up with a NAS product that meets your needs and can be expanded in the future. Entry level NAS models may only support USB storage whereas more sophisticated devices offer a range of software features such as remote access and built in RAID functionality.
A storage area network or SAN is a network that’s dedicated to consolidating block level data storage. SANs are used to make discrete storage devices like disks or tape libraries accessible to servers so that they appear like locally attached devices. A SAN typically consists of a network of storage devices that aren’t accessible via the LAN or WAN.
SANs provide high speed, high performance virtual storage solutions to organisations looking for flexible, scalable storage networks with easy administration. This makes them well suited for applications like disaster recovery and data replication. Many SAN devices are designed for use in rack environments and feature fibre channel connectivity although other protocols like iSCSI are also available.
Several components make up a SAN including storage devices (often disk arrays or tape drives), host bus adapters, switches and cabling. If you’re considering investing in a SAN, The IT Bay stocks a wide range of SAN products from Hewlett Packard and other leading brands.