In its early days, your business’s storage needs may have been pretty straightforward. But as teams, data, and computing demands grow, most companies find that they require a more flexible and systematic approach to data storage, backup, and file sharing. If you’ve done a bit of research on your options, you’ve probably seen three acronyms pop up a lot: DAS, NAS, and SAN. In this post, we provide an overview of major criteria to look at when deciding between direct attached storage (DAS), network attached storage (NAS), and storage area networks (SAN). Chief among those criteria will be the scalability of the solution, the speed with which you need data access, and the budget you have to spend.
In a DAS configuration, your storage is directly attached to the server; no network is involved. As the simplest of the three storage system options being discussed, DAS is:
Least scalable: DAS is typically better for small organizations that need a simple and quick way to back up files, and who know that their storage capacity will probably stay within the limits of the DAS drives they choose. However, if you need to add a lot of storage capacity over time, it probably isn’t a great choice. A DAS device is dedicated to the one server to which it’s connected, so it’s not optimal in a collaborative, fast-growing team environment.
Least expensive: Hopefully, you’ve been able to invest a bit of time into crunching the numbers on your storage needs. If you’re confident that your storage needs and team will stay within a modest enough range, DAS requires the least up-front investment in equipment. As the simplest of the options, it also requires fewer resources to set up and maintain.
Fast: DAS doesn’t offer the more advanced performance and features that NAS and SAN do. But what it does, it does with reliable speed. DAS has the best latency of the three systems.
Direct attached storage has its benefits, but it is too limited for organizations that are a step up in size or growth rate. If this describes you, keep in mind that compared to DAS, a NAS system will be:
More scalable: Compared to DAS, NAS offers better scalability. Adding storage capacity is easier, and it can be accessed by multiple users. As projects grow and require easier sharing and collaboration, or if remote access is needed, this will be an important advantage. When demands on a NAS system reach a certain level, however, performance can begin to suffer. That’s when SAN may be the best choice.
More expensive: The up-front cost of hardware for a NAS system will be greater than DAS, as will the resources required to set up and maintain it. Usually, though, it will be the lower-cost option when compared to SAN. Furthermore, if NAS is the right fit for your organization’s size and growth rate, the benefits in terms of capacity and collaboration will often more than make up for the extra up-front investment.
Slower: By relying on a network rather than a direct connection, NAS will generally have slower read speed than DAS even when using the same speed drives. Although using 10GB networking technology offers great speeds for your NAS setup many companies are still running 10GB networks. Other requirements (i.e, capacity and scale) may rule out DAS to the point where you are willing to accept the trade-off in speed. However, for more demanding or mission-critical databases where access and speed are of the essence, you may need to turn to SAN instead.
Like NAS, a storage area network solution is better for bigger or growing organizations. It is frequently the best choice in a large virtual environment with demanding computing needs. Compared to DAS and NAS, SAN is:
Most scalable: If you need to move large amounts of data in an enterprise setting with a lot of locations and performance demands, SAN will be your top contender. For small businesses, SAN will typically be not only out of reach in terms of budget and resources, but unnecessary. SAN is designed for scalability and performance.
Most expensive: SAN will require the most up-front investment. It is also the most complex, meaning it will require people-power and expertise to build and maintain. If you need the performance of SAN but cost is a big concern Summit can help you source quality refurbished equipment to bring the cost down.
Fast: In addition to scalability, SAN offers fast performance for large amounts of data. If latency is a major concern in your environment, you will probably prefer SAN over NAS.
Scalability, budget, and speed are three of the most important factors to consider when evaluating your storage options. In some environments, a combination of systems will provide the best solution. If only one type is needed, then businesses on the smaller end of the spectrum will likely be choosing between DAS and NAS, while larger and growing companies will want to focus on comparing NAS and SAN.
If you need assistance with your business storage needs, Summit customer service representatives are here to help. Contact an experienced rep for a quote or simply to discuss options.