When Will a Small Business Buy a SAN over a NAS?


If you expect to add your 25th employee within the next year, you should at least consider a Storage Area Network (SAN) as your next primary storage unit. Performance and reliability are two key benefits of a SAN over Network Attached Storage (NAS). But most importantly, the purchase decision comes down to a simple question.

Do you want people to talk to your storage bins directly, or do you want machines to talk to your storage, automating the retrieval process?

Time is your most precious resource and the most precious resource available to your business. Whereas the performance differential bleeds mere seconds for data retrieval, the means of retrieval has a much larger impact.

Time Cost of Manual Retrieval: Block Versus File

SANs allow all users to retrieve data in blocks, or on an as-needed basis. Programs will perform this feature automatically. For all practical purposes, each device connected to the network will treat the information stored in a SAN as though it is contained by the device, itself.

With NAS, data retrieval is manual, on a file-by-file basis. Every time an employee needs to access information contained by the NAS, he or she will be required to pull the file up “by hand.” Minutes are lost.

Authentication is another time sink. A NAS does not allow your IT professional to set up levels of authentication, so each user requires access to be delivered manually, for every single file. We suggest 20-25 employees as a natural size for purchasing a SAN for three reasons:

  • Companies of 20-25 typically have the free resources for a SAN purchase agreement.
  • Since a NAS setup takes a hefty time tax, companies begin to experience a serious drain on resources at 20-25. Growing companies will run into headwinds from their IT setup without a SAN. When IBM brought its enterprise-level controllers down to the SMB market, it substantially reduced the price of acquiring a SAN, and it increased the rewards.
  • In companies over 20, teams can often benefit from real-time collaboration.

In our blog next week, we will talk about real-time collaboration as a game changer for businesses. See you next week!