When traditional Network Attached Storage starts struggling to meet your needs, a Storage Area Network delivers a significant step up in terms of capacity, performance and reliability.
Regardless of the size of your business or what you do, there are plenty of advantages to investing in network storage, rather than storing everything on individual PCs and external USB drives. Network storage can act as a file server, making documents available to staff across your organisation rather than locking them away on individual devices. It can also offer a central storage and backup point to protect your data should disaster strike.
A small business would typically start with Network Attached Storage (NAS). It’s a simple appliance-style device that attaches to your network via Ethernet and is available to all your devices (with granular control over file and service access). While you’ll find NAS appliances with a single hard drive, businesses should opt for a multi-drive NAS that spreads your data across several drives in a RAID, protecting your data should one drive fail.
Over time, businesses can outgrow their NAS, particularly if they’re working with large, performance-sensitive databases or virtualisation. This is where a Storage Area Network (SAN) becomes more practical and can help ease business growing pains.
One key difference is that a SAN offers direct block storage access rather than just file storage, offering a significant performance boost when working with databases and virtual machines. The use of Fibre Channel instead of Ethernet to connect to your network also offers a performance boost, although it can be cost prohibitive. Thankfully, high-bandwidth Ethernet combined with iSCSI (Internet Small Computer Systems Interface) can make SANs more affordable for SMEs.
Another key benefit of upgrading to an office SAN is that your raw storage is treated as a pool of resources that can be allocated on the fly as required. It’s also easier to add extra storage to a SAN to extend it beyond the capacities typically offered by a multi-drive NAS.
If network storage is becoming a productivity bottleneck within your office, it’s worth considering whether a Storage Area Network is the boost your business needs.