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Is it SAN or NAS for a local LAN?

I need a little insight into a problem. I have roughly 4 terabytes of data all patent images (approx. 6.5 million TIF files) that will be served up via Web browser for a local LAN only (roughly 16 people). I am getting conflicting stories for what is needed, NAS or SAN. I am not worried about backing it up and I am not worried about failover/redundancy, we are a small shop. Any advice?

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With 16 people accessing the data it sounds like a traditional file server type of environment. The problem is the amount of data you have - it exceeds the capacity of many NAS products. Talk to NetApp, BlueArc, Zambeel, EMC, Compaq, MTI, or Auspex. If you can't afford a big NAS system then I recommend using an NFS, Windows 2K or Netware server with a simple SAN (small switch or hub, and maybe four 2TB storage cabinets. I would mirror them because mirrored disk is always a good idea). Make sure you have a volume manager or RAID controller available that allows you to combine storage volumes and mirror them.

You may even find that DAS will work for you - I would think that there could be an LVD SCSI solution that will do what you need.

Regards,
Marc Farley

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This was first published in December 2001

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