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SAN Versus NAS for Video Surveillance: Why It Matters More Than You Think

Julie Fagan

For decades, video storage has been the domain of the security organization. And for decades that’s been just fine. Traditional video surveillance deployments that record data to dedicated digital video recorders (DVRs) or network video recorders (NVRs) don’t need a lot of specialized skills to manage—if they’re small, that is. In small numbers, these systems can be simple, but they can quickly become complex and difficult to manage at scale. On top of that, they’re dead slow and notorious for being unreliable.

As security organizations grow their video surveillance deployments by adding and upgrading cameras, they look to enterprise storage for speed, scalability, manageability, and reliability to support crucial video systems.

If you’re a member of a security organization that is now responsible for enterprise storage, or you’re a storage admin who is suddenly making decisions about video surveillance storage, you need to know that when it comes to video, not all storage is created equal.

Here’s What You Need to Know

Two architectures dominate the enterprise storage landscape: SAN (block) and NAS (file). Much has been written about the technical differences between SAN and NAS, including this excellent summary by NetApp A-Teamer Becky Elliot, so we won’t get into that here.

While some enterprise storage vendors push scale-out file systems (NAS) for video, the NetApp® video surveillance storage solution is built on NetApp E-Series SAN storage. If you’re considering scale-out NAS file storage for video surveillance, you may be introducing unnecessary complexity and security vulnerabilities that could result in downtime or increase your total cost of ownership. It’s important to understand the differences between SAN and NAS in the context of video surveillance so that you don’t put lives, property, or your reputation at risk over an unplanned outage.

Even though NetApp FAS and AFF systems can do both SAN and NAS, we don’t try to shoehorn our flagship products into every use case. There are some fundamental technical differences that make E-Series SAN block storage the ideal solution for video surveillance storage, with real benefits over NAS file systems (looking at you, Isilon).
  • Seamless, modular scalability. Because E-Series SAN uses block-level storage protocols, you can scale incrementally and nondisruptively on the same controller. This is crucial for video surveillance workloads where you need to be able to record high-definition video from thousands of cameras and add cameras on demand.
  • Optimized for data security. Unlike scale-out file systems where your data can be accessed over a TCP/IP network, E-Series SAN prevents unwanted intrusion by keeping the file system in the operating system layer. Functional isolation of block I/O means that your data is compartmentalized and protected against catastrophic failure.
  • Outstanding reliability. Storage downtime effectively means video downtime. If your storage is down, you aren’t recording video. And if you’re not capturing video, you could be missing critical evidence. E-Series SAN storage is a tested, enterprise-scale platform that delivers greater than 99.999% availability, so you never have to worry about your video data going down.
E-Series SAN is purpose-built for security, speed, reliability, scalability, and manageability, which makes it ideal for video surveillance storage, even among other NetApp SAN systems. Organizations around the world, from the world’s largest gaming casinos to colleges, airports, and law enforcement agencies, are using E-Series SAN storage for their video surveillance storage infrastructure. With more than 1 million units shipped, E-Series is tested and proven to keep your video surveillance data safe, secure, and available.

For more information about the benefits of block versus file storage for video surveillance, download the solution brief.

Julie Fagan

Julie Fagan has a long career in high-tech solutions marketing. She loves working at NetApp where she gets to focus on bringing the best video surveillance and high performance computing storage solutions to the world along with her awesome co-workers.

View all Posts by Julie Fagan

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