How to Find the Right Storage Technology for Video Surveillance

Discussing NAS vs SAN

How to Find the Right Storage Technology for Video Surveillance

In the last ten years, the rapid transition from analog to digital recording technology has paved the way for widespread adoption of IP cameras. While IP cameras have excelled at recording high-resolution images using advanced compression technology, the demand for longer retention time has left security integrators searching for innovative storage solutions.

Not only do physical security systems require high storage capability, they need to be designed with scalability in mind and an eye toward what future camera and surveillance technology may require.

How Do I Choose the Right Storage Solution?

Simply put, the best storage solution is one that is designed specifically for your project. Not only will this lead to considerable cost-savings and help security integrators win projects, it offers end users a completely streamlined, forward-looking approach to video storage.

As the technology cycle accelerates, short-sighted video storage can lead to much higher total cost of ownership. Consider, for example, Direct-Attached Storage (DAS). Once a mainstay for handling analog and small video storage needs, it proves near impossible to scale without a total system upgrade.

For video surveillance storage where performance, low latency recording, and minimal or zero loss of frames recording is crucial, an external storage system is the best option. Especially, as installations grow to 100s or 1000s of IP cameras with multi-month and multi-year storage requirements.


While both SAN and NAS use an IP network to access external storage, there are key differences in how they use the network to access storage that ultimately leads to a difference in performance for video applications.

With NAS, there is a server that sits between the NVR and the storage system providing file-level access to the storage. Storage on a NAS is accessed over a network at the file level and requires its own protocol for communications (NFS or CIFS) and is only formatted on the file server.

While NAS is an appropriate choice for a file sharing environment which does not call for intensive, concurrent writing to disk, file level access can be very limiting on write performance and is generally not suitable for environments with more than a few cameras.

A SAN differs from a NAS by allowing multiple NVR units to connect to a single storage system at the block level without a file server. The NVR will see the storage allocated by the SAN as a local disk drive yet the file system is maintained by that NVR. Centralized management of the SAN is also possible from any web browser connected to the storage system network adding increased efficiency and ease of management.

SAN has traditionally been used in large security systems for enterprise environments with large numbers of high-resolution IP cameras and extended storage requirements – casinos, city surveillance, airports, among others. Due to the cost-effectiveness and ability to easily scale, SAN is quickly becoming more popular in small and mid-tier installations as well.

The use of SAN in these smaller camera environments exceeds the capabilities and cost-effectiveness of a DAS or NAS solution. Additionally, SAN offers a more robust architecture for security applications that need to be scalable and flexible as business grows and camera technology evolves.

How to Design a SAN Solution

For security integrators, BCDVideo provides a full-service system design specific to each project’s specs. Using BCDVideo Pro Services, security integrators can attain the ideal SAN solution to help them win more projects while delivering customized solutions tailored to meet the technological demands of the future.

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