Why not do everything with NAS vs. SAN?

Go ahead! As long as the applications support NAS.

As long as the applications support network-attached storage (NAS), there is no real reason to avoid NAS. Exchange is one example of an application that does not support NAS, and most high-end database applications use a storage-area network (SAN). Remember that NAS works at a higher layer and offers more intelligence, but it introduces a bit more latency that limits performance. SAN platforms also have the benefit of incumbency -- it's already deployed in the organization and supported with experience and expertise.

I believe NAS is great for the world of persistent data, and SAN is great for the blazing fast transactional world, so I like a combination of the two. But it's all based around best practices. I know companies that have an all NAS environment, though they might throw in a little iSCSI to support email. Those users employ NAS with high-end, mission-critical databases, and it's working fine. So there is no absolute method or approach -- it's all about what you want to do, but I like the idea of merging these technologies together so that multiple protocols can be served up for a single storage system.

Check out the entire NAS FAQ guide.

This was last published in July 2007

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