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How does the cost of a hyper-converged system compare to SAN or NAS?

When evaluating the cost of a hyper-converged storage system, it's important to keep the functionality of the system in mind in addition to cost per gigabyte.

It isn't entirely fair to compare the expense of a SAN or NAS system to that of a hyper-converged system because the three technologies were created for different purposes. In addition, there is no fixed price associated with any of the three. Costs depend on a number of factors, such as the amount of storage purchased and the scale of the deployment. There are also low- and high-end offerings for each technology. NAS systems, for example, are generally considered to be the least expensive of the three, but a high-end NAS system could cost as much as a low-end hyper-converged system.

Another thing to consider is that you are paying primarily for storage when you purchase a SAN or NAS system. Sure, there are other components such as networking hardware that must be purchased, but the bulk of the cost is directly attributed to storage hardware. Hyper-converged systems comprise a number of different components, including compute, storage and networking. The compute components account for a significant portion of the overall cost. If you base your estimate solely on storage, you would find hyper-converged storage systems almost always have a higher cost per gigabyte simply because they contain more than just storage hardware.

A final consideration is functionality. In the case of SAN, NAS or even a converged storage system, the storage hardware can be used for any purpose. In the case of a hyper-converged system, all the components work together and cannot be used separately. A hyper-converged system would therefore be a good choice to build a virtualization infrastructure, but not to expand available data storage.

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This was last published in June 2015

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