Ask the Expert

Administration issues to consider when choosing SAN/NAS

Our organization has deployed a NAS IBM 226. Since our data is rapidly growing, we are thinking of a SAN. Data growth is 1TB per year so I want to know whether we can continue with our existing solution or whether we should go for NAS.

I'd also like to know when we should go for these technologies and what are the basic differences between these two technologies.


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The issues normally come down to cost of administration. You didn't say whether you need block access for data as well as file access. In environments where there is a need for both and is growing fairly quickly, some companies have chosen a NAS gateway which uses the NAS controller (or head) in front of a SAN. Most of the major vendors offer NAS Gateways today (IBM 300G, EMC Celerra, HDS with NetApp, HP E7000, etc.) as well as many independents such as the recent Spinnaker 3300G.

The differences between the two technologies are file vs. block access at the highest level but many other factors such as performance, security, aggregate administrative cost, etc. It's a complex subject that is beyond the scope of an e-mail to explain to a useful level. There are many good education classes, some online, that you can search for that will help.

Randy Kerns
Evaluator Group, Inc.

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This was first published in March 2003

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