Network Attached Storage - Under the hood

by: Mark Hamilton

A Network Attached Storage (NAS) is a type of storage space system that may be linked to a data network. A NAS is useful for storage relevant to non mission-critical data. It is less costly and simpler to maintain compared to a Storage Area Network (SAN) but does not quite deliver the performance a powerful organization can acquire from a SAN.

File transfer protocols supported by NAS include Network File System, Common Internet File System, File Transfer Protocol, etc. NAS servers give versatility in terms of connection to the network; this can be done either via the Ethernet or a fiber channel network. Nowadays you can even get wireless 802.11 NAS devices. The good thing about NAS devices lies in their simpleness, they could be created using virtually any hard drive technology however they are usually developed using Small Computer Systems Interface (SCSI). NAS devices may also be used for many other storage techniques such as magnetic tape, CD, and DVD.

NAS offers the following advantages -

1.Quicker access to saved data via the LAN.

2.Lower costs since the RAID arrays are a part of the LAN.

3.Straightforward to set up, are usually installed and operating in under half an hour.

These types of properties of NAS storage plus its low cost of ownership ensure it is well suited for SMBs. A twin benefit of Raid 5 NAS is the fact that it enables administrators to either enhance or consolidate the storage infrastructure. Storage growth is practically unlimited as one is free of the restriction of storage capabilities of individual servers as well as the amount of drives they are able to hold. At the same time, one NAS set-up is good enough to replace several data file servers that are operating separately, this leads to consolidation. NAS is often run on commonly accessible os's for example Windows. NAS status could be checked out via everywhere on the LAN, this gives storage administrators a chance to diagnose problems and alter NAS configurations when required.

NAS system performance is dependent upon the drive support, the number of disks in use as well as the overall capacity. SATA hard disks that offer excellent low-cost mass storage are most preferred. SCSI hard disks are also available. Because the NAS utilizes the LAN for data transfer often there is a chance of a bottleneck developing some time over the LAN, generally it's the network interface that creates problems. If utilizing a NAS, search for products which support Gigabit Ethernet for speedy data transfer as well as numerous connections so that network load is spread and interface redundancy is supplied.

When purchasing a NAS solution keep security in mind and check out vendors that include native encryption using the system.