top of page


Updated: Feb 19

Did you know that, according to the Cloud Industry Forum, the adoption rate in the UK has now reached 80%? 67% of users have also said they expect to increase their use of cloud services throughout the coming year.

If you’ve been thinking about using cloud or traditional storage, then you’re probably curious about the differences between vSAN and SAN.

You may be asking yourself questions such as:

“What is SAN?”

“What is vSAN?”

“What are the differences between each?”

“Which type of storage is best for my business?”

If you don’t have the answers to these questions, then you won’t be able to decide which of these two storage options is best for you.

That’s why we’ve written this article. Once you know the differences between SAN and vSAN and what the benefits of each are, you can decide which one is right for your business. Read on to learn more.


To understand what the difference is between SAN and vSAN, it’s important to understand SAN. This is because vSAN is a cloud-based storage solution meant to be an alternative to the traditional SAN solution.

SAN stands for “storage area network.”

To give a more technical definition, it’s a physical storage appliance that runs through either a Fibre channel or a block-mode high-performance iSCSI.

Sometimes, it’s used to run applications and databases. It also hosts industry-standard hypervisors such as VMWare, Hyper-V, XEN, KVM etc.

SANs are available anywhere between 4-bay towers and 36-bay rackmounts. Because of the strength of the Fibre Channel and/or iSCSI, they can deliver block-mode storage that is high-delivered for structure workloads.


vSAN stands for “virtual storage area network.” When you’re using a vSAN, you’re still storing data, just like you would with a SAN. However, you are storing it differently. You are turning your network’s virtual servers into a place to store data.

Basically, you’re creating virtual storage. A vSAN is a cloud storage network that is Ethernet-based. It is also a block-I/O platform.

Within the server-based file system, it uses virtual disks. These virtual disks exist within a logical unit number system.

Put in layman’s terms, a vSAN is a lot like a SAN, except that it runs slightly differently and that the data, applications, and databases stored are being stored virtually.


In this section, “vSAN v SAN”, we’ll review the differences are between these two storage types. The main difference, of course, is that one is physical while the other one is virtual. However, there are some additional differences. We’ll review those here.


The traditional SAN requires an external NAS, Network Attached Storage. If you don’t have a NAS, then it requires file storage volumes. This way, you can allocate your structured workloads into storage space as needed.

Additionally, migration tends to be a bit messy. It’s more error-prone and complex than it would be with a vSAN. (Easier migration is one of the benefits of vSAN).

You’re also using fixed hardware when using a SAN. This means that you can’t increase system memory or processing capabilities.

However, you can add storage arrays to get more storage. Lots more storage.. It is relatively inexpensive to purchase a simple highly available SAN such as a QSAN XS1226 to front up a monster Storage Array such as a Western Digital Data60 or Data102. In a nutshell, this could give you a front end comprising of 26 SSD SAS disks with a backend of 60 or 102 x18TB SAS or SATA disks. Of course you are not limited to just one expansion unit – you can add multiple.


With a SAN, you won’t have to worry about latency issues, physical server security, or egress costs. If you’re worried about any of these issues, you might be better of using the SAN solution than the vSAN solution.

QSAN offer a range of SAN, NAS and Unified Storage Solutions. Each range has varying performance and high availability capabilities from simple 2-bay NAS, to Fully Redundant Enterprise SANs, All Flash SAN’s & Highly Available NAS.


Here’s how things work differently with a vSAN. For one thing, you now have a pool of storage. You’ve allocated your available storage resources to virtual machines (also known as VMs).

Additionally, when it comes to the vSAN volumes, they are flexible.

This means that it’s easier for you to adjust your allocated resources more easily. You can also add more storage, system memory, and process with more ease.

Additionally, if you’re asking yourself, “What are the benefits of vSAN?”, one of them is that migration is much easier because everything is available virtually already instead of stored physically.

Finally, you can use the vSAN solution in a setup that’s completely serverless by deploying it in a public cloud.

StarWind Virtual SAN (VSAN) is a software that eliminates the need for shared physical storage by simply “mirroring” internal hard disks and flash between hypervisor servers. It’s compatible with any hypervisor of your choice, be it Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware vSphere/ ESXi, Xen or Linux based KVM. StarWind VSAN is ideally suited for Enterprise remote offices and branch offices (ROBO), small and medium businesses (SMB) & Edge offering a true two-node scenario without the need of a 3rd “witness” node as seen in other Hyper-converged solutions


If you’re wondering which one of these you should buy, it depends on what your needs are. If your critical workloads have a low latency tolerance and you have large deployments of them, then you should use a SAN appliance that’s on-premise.

With a SAN, you’ll also have more control over security, spin up, and administration.

If you want a little more flexibility and aren’t too worried about security, then a vSAN might be a better choice. With a vSAN appliance, you can deploy it on an offsite server, cloud environment, or hosted hypervisor.

However, you will have lower latency. Additionally, you will have more challenges when it comes to availability, cost, and management.

We distribute two vendor products, one that is SAN and one that is vSAN.

Both of these come at a reasonable cost for small and midsize businesses. If your preference is a SAN solution, we provide physical storage including SANs, NAS and the latest in Unified Storage & All Flash Arrays through our vendor QSAN.

If your preference is a vSAN solution, we also have software available through StarWind Software. They provide Virtual SANs software. You can learn more about this product here.

Now that you’ve learned about the differences between vSAN and SAN, you might need more information. Maybe you want some advice on which of these solutions is best for you. Or maybe you want to learn more about solutions you can use for your small to midsize business.

Whatever information you need, we’re here to help.

At Cloud Ready, we’re experts when it comes to IT solutions for businesses. We can also give you access to many different vendors. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us here.



bottom of page