San vs Nas for VMWare

All sizeable companies ask themselves this at one time or another.

Selecting between San and Nas for a VMWare  environment. Databases also need to use some sort of dependable storage.

I am asking regarding a small-Medium company, but also would like comments regarding Medium-large companies.

Feel free to state the brand you are referring about as well as possible Gluster/Redhat solutions.

I plan to keep this question open for a while, I think this is a common interests for companies and will be read by many.

Thank you
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
IMHO a NAS is a cheaper alternative to a SAN. In general, a NAS is a single storage device that operate on data files, while a SAN is a local network of multiple devices that operate on disk blocks. NAS connects via Ethernet (TCP/IP) , SAN via Fibre Channel .. Multiple NAS boxes don't normally connect to each other but SAN's can
I don't think that's the right question.

VMware can work with either sort of arrangement.

Your choice of external storage arrays for use with VMware will not so much depend on whether you call it NAS or SAN, but on the specific features offered by the vendor. I happen to like the way VMware and NetApp work together, but someone else may be attracted to a particular feature of EMC and that will sway their decision.

When I think about this, the biggest issues I come up with are remote replication and backup. How do the features of the storage arrays keep your costs down, but not compromise the integrity of the overall system if a site goes down.
TIMFOX123Author Commented:
All great statements.

San is expensive however it seems to be ultra dependable.  We have about 1 issue per year with over 1000 systems.

NFS is inexpensive and we use it from linux host to linux host.  I would like to say we have 1 issue per year but that would not be correct.

Not sure if netapp  nfs is ultra reliable on both sides.  We have that also and can not say it has been as reliable.  Your results may be different.
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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
It's getting more interesting a vSphere 6 is coming out.  The main disadvantage of NAS was that you couldn't perform multipathing easily since link aggregation compared to iscsi/fc/fcoe.  With vSphere 6 there is no support for pNFS (NFS 4.1) and a lot of these disadvantages are now gone.  

We have implemented a lot of both and at the end of the day it comes down to performance and features (in addition to cost).  For instance Netapp can do unified storage which is nice and their VMware integration is probably the best I've seen in the business and can do NAS/SAN for VMware.  Nimble on the other hand just block storage (fc/iscsi)  and for basic VMware functionality and better snapshots and replication (non vmware integrated in the sense where on the Netapp you can restore directly from vCenter)

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Gerald ConnollyCommented:
Lets get this straight, SAN a Storage Area Network, works over multiple transport mechanisms (e.g. Fibre Channel, Ethernet, TCP/IP, iSCSI, FCoE, Infiniband, Ficon even UltraSCSI and SAS) and distances from 2Metres to 1000's Kilometres.
In a SAN it doesnt matter how the storage devices are connected, their presented LUNs look like a locally connected SCSI disks/tapes to the server.

The cost of a SAN is not expensive its all relative. Yes a SAN has a higher cost than connecting a FEW disks to a server, but its the additional features and usually performance that you are paying for.

And you get what you pay for, a NAS is perfectly acceptable in some situations, but if you need Shared High-Speed block level performance with controller synchronous replication to a remote site (for BC) then a SAN is a better bet.

As for vendors, you need to do due diligence, but NetApp and EMC are not the only ones, look at HP, IBM, HDS, Dell and lots and lots of smaller companies that all have USP's depending on your requirement
TIMFOX123Author Commented:
this keeps on getting better replies ( no fear I am going to close soon.

Thank you all
madunix (Fadi SODAH)Chief Information Security Officer Commented:
Storage Area Network (SAN)
-      Expands NAS to wide area networks (WAN).  SAN replication
-      SAN is a dedicated network.
-      Multiple SANs can be simultaneously utilized.
-      SAN can be expensive and technically complicated.
-      Capable of handling very high volumes.
-      SAN is a great solution for large companies.
-      SAN is designed to be very fault tolerant
madunix (Fadi SODAH)Chief Information Security Officer Commented:
SAN replica

Built Ibm based solution SAN IBM replication
Gerald ConnollyCommented:
That's a standard layout that every vendor has touted since the late 90's, well except it has a Single Point of Failure (SPoF) in its backbone fabric.

If you are really paranoid you would have 4 x fabrics, 1 x dual redundant from one set of infrastructure vendors and 1 x dual redundant from a different set of infrastructure vendors, both across both sites .

For a Business Continuity setup this would be a dual redundant, metropolitan cluster, with out the backbone fabric, with fabric A's connected and fabric B's connected (but not together) and a lot of monitoring and serious failover procedures
Gerald ConnollyCommented:
Just going back on what David said IMHO a NAS is a cheaper alternative to a SAN, that's a blinkered view on the subject? It's really " Horses for Courses", there are situations where a NAS is more appropriate, and others where a SAN is, with a generous helping of overlap in the middle! And of course there are situations where a SAN provides storage to a NAS head, aka the Hybrid SAN.
Carlos IjalbaIT Systems DirectorCommented:
Then there is storage virtualization:

Software storage virtualization, or software defined storage (SDS), like VMware VSAN 2.0, which will let a small business get rid of shared storage altogether by using HDs and SSDs from a ESXi host, as long as you have at least 3 nodes, probably even cheaper than a NAS option, and with redundancy as good as or better than SAN.

Hardware storage virtualization, or hardware defined storage, like IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC) , where you can use existing storage from different vendors and offer centralization, performance boosts and upgraded feature sets.
Here is where you can reuse existing SAN, NAS, JBODs, YoullNameIt's, and present it all as just one big SAN.

For Supported Soft/Hard by IBM SVC, see:
TIMFOX123Author Commented:
This has been very very good and I thank you all.  this sort of jips all the great experience and comments because there are just so many to go around.

thank you all
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