NAS or SAN? - General - Forum - Storage - Dell Community



Gain insight and information on Dell EMC Storage products from engineers, peers and experts in the industry.


  • Hi. We have to decide whether we have to choose between NAS or SAN. we have to setup our network infrastructure. we will store VM images on storage(SAN or NAS) and will use these images and copy that in our ESX servers and do our testing. so the storage will be only for backup of images. So please suggest me whether to go for NAS or SAN as performance is also a major concern for me.
  • There are a lot of factors when determining whether to use a SAN vs NAS. I will try and provide a quick breakdown between the two and possible headaches.

    Network Attached Storage
    * File Level Storage
    ----> This means that you will be typically using NFS or CIFS as your protocol (ESX currently only supports NFS shares for datastores)
    * Platform Dependent
    ----> A NAS solution will only be as fast as the server/backplane/OS allows it to be
    * Low Cost
    ----> File Sharing is typically provided as a service either included or easily installed on most OS's

    Storage Area Network
    * Block Level Storage
    ----> A SAN presents data through a block level protocol (FC, iSCSI, FCoE) to the server which then in turn treats the storage as a local disk to be manipulated and control with its own specific filesystem (in VMWare's case, vmfs)
    * Platform Independent
    ----> A SAN functions on its own with a specific function thus freeing all resources to a specific task, dealing with your data.
    * Expensive
    ----> A SAN is not cheap to come by and typically there are a lot of added expenses.

    There is much more information relating to the differences between the two and there are positives and negatives to both. Personally, I have found that in a VMWare environment, a SAN makes the most sense especially if you look at clustering your ESX servers. Especially as VMWare has released their storage API, SANs (My favorite, Equallogic) can offload common storage processing from the servers to the SANs thus improving performance dramatically. SANs also provide scalability for future projects.

    I hope this gives you more to think about and assist with making your decision.

    The Hybrid Tech
  • Hey Thanks for your reply. I am looking following factors before setting up the Network LAB for my team.. I have team aroung 35 members. Each will perform their activity through this LAB.. So on an average I can expect around 500 GB Data transfer at a single point of time. So this would be the primary concern. Since Cost is also one of the major concern I am planning to go for NAS.. if I go for a NAS, I am thinking to use Optical Fiber channel.. Does this performance(improve our network Speed) compare to GigaByte Network?. Also I am thinking of the Centralized network.. Means I have 6 ESX Server which are connected to Storage and user from each ESX Server will copy the VM images from storage at any point of time. The Storage will contain around 150 VM Images(Like vmdk file) in it..

    Could you please suggest one of the best NAS Device(With Specification) which we can use it as our storage.

    (1) Performance
    (2) Usability
    (3) Reliability

  • Nuka123

    There is definitely some benefits in picking the file system vmware designed for it's product (vmfs), one of which is that there are VAAI components available for block level (isci or fc) which makes a big difference if you are moving lots of data around. NFS seems to be good if you have a need for a larger than 2TB share and don't want to use extents , it's also argueabley better for really small enviroments that just don't want to spend money on a SAN (which may be the case).

    "I am thinking to use Optical Fiber channel.. Does this performance(improve our network Speed) compare to GigaByte Network"

    Optical 1Gbps buys you greater range only, if you go to 10Gbps optical there is an advantage to that.

    For storage reccomendations I'd highly encourage you to reach out to the local field team from Dell and have them work with you on the solution. If you want me to just PM me with your details and i'll get you in touch with the right people, or I'll be more than happy to get the needed information from you and make a recommendation as well to get you started on here.

    Take care,

  • Thanks for your reply. I have to collect all possible data and make a blueprint of my network infrastructure within 2-3 days.. i will be more than happy to get the info from either you or local dell guys. my business email id is or +91 9742670218 . you can contact me through this email id or phone.