Network Storage Solution

FGS Services provides services to choose and setup Network Attached Storage (NAS), storage area network (SAN), file & printer sharing on network or online data storage.

SAN compared to NAS

Network-attached storage (NAS) was designed before the emergence of SAN as a solution to the limitations of the traditionally used direct-attached storage (DAS), in which individual storage devices such as disk drives are connected directly to each individual computer and not shared. In both a NAS and SAN solution the various computers in a network, such as individual users’ desktop computers and dedicated servers running applications (“application servers”), can share a more centralized collection of storage devices via a network connection through the LAN.

Concentrating the storage on one or more NAS servers or in a SAN instead of placing storage devices on each application server allows application server configurations to be optimized for running their applications instead of also storing all the related data and moves the storage management task to the NAS or SAN system. Both NAS and SAN have the potential to reduce the amount of excess storage that must be purchased and provisioned as spare space. With a NAS or SAN architecture, where storage is shared across the needs of multiple computers, one normally provisions a pool of shared spare storage that will serve the peak needs of the connected computers, which typically is less than the total amount of spare storage that would be needed if individual storage devices were dedicated to each computer.

In a NAS solution the storage devices are directly connected to a “NAS-Server” that makes the storage available at a file-level to the other computers across the LAN. In a SAN solution the storage is made available via a server or other dedicated piece of hardware at a lower “block-level”, leaving file system concerns to the “client” side. One way to loosely conceptualize the difference between a NAS and a SAN is that NAS appears to the client OS (operating system) as a file server (the client can map network drives to shares on that server) whereas a disk available through a SAN still appears to the client OS as a disk, visible in disk and volume management utilities (along with client’s local disks), and available to be formatted with a file system and mounted.

One drawback to both the NAS and SAN architecture is that the connection between the various CPUs and the storage units are no longer dedicated high-speed busses tailored to the needs of storage access. Instead the CPUs use the LAN to communicate, potentially creating bandwidth as well as performance bottlenecks. Additional data security considerations are also required for NAS and SAN setups, as information is being transmitted via a network that potentially includes design flaws, security exploits and other vulnerabilities that may not exist in a DAS setup.

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