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You are looking for the most efficient storage space. You know that Storage Area Networks (SANs) are one option, but they are not exactly the cheapest storage type money can buy. Is there a lower-cost alternative?

Yes. Network Area Storage (NAS) is another way to carve out some storage space, and it is measurably less expensive than its palindrome, SAN. We frequently advise our clients to consider an NAS as one piece of their IT storage solution.

The key word being piece. If you wanted to make a whole pie out of NAS storage, you might not like the taste. Here’s why.

Performance suffers in an NAS, and accessing data can take longer than companies expect or want. This is especially true for commonly used information, which can cause long wait times and erode business functionality. Our clients want the lowest cost possible, but they also want IT to work seamlessly.

NAS is an ideal targets for backups and archiving. Even though the drives are low speed, they get the job done. Whenever you need to retrieve a file from your backups, or an old email, the retrieval might take some more time than it would from a SAN, but the low frequency of retrieval does not slow down the business in a noticeable way.

In other words, we look at NAS as an extra-low tier in the storage solution. (Read our recent blog about IBM SANs and Easy Tier, a feature that automatically stores unused files in the cheapest storage drive and routes frequently accessed files in the sleekest, quickest drive on the shelf.)

We typically use Microsoft Distributed File System (DFS) to manage file storage in the NAS. DFS gives you an organized, manageable file structure at low cost. It does not have all of the sleek, enterprise-level functionality of an IBM SAN. Many of the organization needs to be conducted manually, but our clients have been quite happy with the decreased costs of the total solution.

Come back next time for the next chapter of the SAN versus NAS battle: how drive slots influence performance.

Category: Atlanta IT Service Articles, Date: 2nd July 2014, Author: Chris Chao

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