An introduction to storage-area networks and network-attached storage

Learn more about Fibre Channel SANs, SAN switches, NAS clusters, NAS virtualization and other network storage technologies.

While network-attached storage (NAS) and storage-area network (SAN) technologies provide many advantages, they also present many challenges. Implementing a NAS, SAN or unified storage solution (a mix of the two) can often prove to be costly and complex. But that doesn't mean storage pros in the UK should forgo the benefits of Fibre Channel (FC) SANs, SAN switches, NAS clusters, NAS virtualization and other networked storage technologies. has compiled our most recent information covering the basics of SANs and NAS. Discover the pros and cons of using these technologies in a virtual environment, read about easy-to-use SAN technologies, learn how to leverage NAS clusters, and more.

NAS and SAN technology

Data storage for virtual environments: Pros and cons of DAS, NAS and SAN
Data center consolidation and cost reduction have driven the steady adoption of virtual server technologies in enterprise data storage environments. The major players (Microsoft, VMware and Xen) all provide support for using direct-attached storage (DAS), network-attached storage or storage-area networks. This article provides tips on how to decide which data storage technology -- DAS, NAS or SAN -- is best for your virtual environment, and the pros and cons of each.

How to choose the right RAID configuration for a new storage-area network
A business intends to acquire a storage-area network to move away from direct-attached storage. However, half of their data is in a business-critical SQL database and Microsoft Exchange Server, while the other half consists of Microsoft Office documents. contributor Martin Taylor helps them decide which RAID configurations they should consider for their new SAN.

Podcast: The basics of network-attached storage
In this podcast, Simon Johnson of GlassHouse Technologies UK discusses the basics of network-attached storage, how it differs from other forms of storage by providing storage and file system capabilities, as well as how you can scale NAS systems for small office/home office and the enterprise by using clustered NAS and NAS gateways. Johnson's answers are available as an MP3 download or you can read a transcript of them.

Network-attached storage clusters for virtualised environments
While network-attached storage clusters have been around for years, they're gaining renewed attention as companies increasingly turn to server virtualisation. NAS clusters can provide reliable, flexible and highly scalable networked storage to virtualised environments, and are fully supported by VMware products. This article takes a closer look at how growing virtualisation environments have been affecting the NAS market in the last year.

Defining storage-area networks, network-attached storage and unified storage
Network-attached storage, storage-area networks and unified storage have a common element: they provide data storage capacity that isn't directly attached to servers. They pool storage on arrays of drives that are accessed by and independent of servers. However, these storage types differ depending on the network structure that servers and data storage use to connect to each other. This article examines the differences in these network storage technologies, and examines the networking protocols each technology uses to deliver and receive data.

The value of easy-to-use SAN storage
Storage-area network storage is in a period of major change -- it's getting much easier. For years, SAN storage has required extensive knowledge about LUNs, LUN masking, volume sizing, volume concatenation, scripting, RAID set calculation, capacity planning and more. This article breaks down some easy-to-use SAN options and why it makes sense for storage pros to consider them in tight economic times, despite some of their drawbacks.

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