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Network Attached Storage (NAS)

Network-attached storage (NAS) is file-level computer data storage connected to a computer network providing data access to a group of clients. NAS not only operates as a file server, but is specialised for this task either by its hardware, software, or configuration of those elements. NAS is often manufactured as a computer appliance – a specialised computer built from the ground up for storing and serving files – rather than simply a general purpose computer being used for the role.

NAS devices are gaining popularity, as a convenient method of sharing files among multiple computers and as backup storage devices. Potential benefits of network-attached storage, compared to file servers, include faster data access, easier administration, simple configuration and cost.

NAS systems are networked appliances which contain one or more hard drives, often arranged into logical, redundant storage containers or RAID. Network-attached storage removes the responsibility of file serving from other servers on the network. They typically provide access to files using network file sharing protocols such as NFS, SMB/CIFS, or AFP.

Storage capacities range from below 1TB and are expandable to very large capacities.

ProSysCom will assist you with the correct NAS device for your environment. They are typically used in small to medium sized businesses and up to large corporations.

 

NAS vs SAN

NAS provides both storage and a file system. This is often contrasted with SAN (Storage Area Network), which provides only block-based storage and leaves file system concerns on the "client" side. SAN protocols include Fibre Channel, iSCSI, ATA over Ethernet (AoE) and HyperSCSI.

One way to loosely conceptualize the difference between a NAS and a SAN is that NAS appears to the client OS (operating system) as a file server (the client can map network drives to shares on that server) whereas a disk available through a SAN still appears to the client OS as a disk, visible in disk and volume management utilities (along with client's local disks), and available to be formatted with a file system and mounted.

Despite their differences, SAN and NAS are not mutually exclusive, and may be combined as a SAN-NAS hybrid, offering both file-level protocols (NAS) and block-level protocols (SAN) from the same system. An example of this is Openfiler, a free software product running on Linux-based systems.