Information Technology Solutions - Network Attached Storage & Storage Area Network Solutions

Network Attached Storage & Storage Area Network Solutions

Network Attached Storage

Storage Area Networks (SANs)

Network Attached Storage


Network-attached storage (NAS) refers to file-level data storage devices connected to a computer that provides seamless access to heterogeneous clients. As such, NAS acts as a dedicated file server for data storage purposes. Unlike file servers that utilize SCSI and LAN adapters to integrate with the network, a NAS appliance uses a network interface card to transmit LAN and storage communications.

Like other types of file servers, NAS adheres to the client/server model. A single hardware device (the NAS box) provides the interface between the NAS and network clients. Typically, the NAS box runs an embedded operating system rather than a full-featured NOS. One or more disk (and possibly tape) drives can be attached to many NAS systems to increase total capacity. Clients generally access a NAS across an Ethernet connection. The NAS appears on the network as a single "node" that is the IP address of the NAS box.

Benefits of NAS

NAS solutions permit organizations to centralize and backup all its data to a single location, and accommodate access from anywhere. A NAS solution provides the following immediate benefits:

  • Performance. Because network-attached storage systems are designed for a dedicated purpose, they are much faster than typical servers and storage facilities.
  • Reliability. NAS resources are remarkably resilient to downtime, and are not encumbered by many of the storage-related issues that degrade other servers' performance. Many problems with servers are caused by storage related issues.
  • Maintenance. NAS appliances work independently of an organization's other servers, meaning that they are resistant to issues or maintenance occurring on them. Data on the NAS remains accessible regardless of the status of other servers in the network.
  • Network Performance Degradation. Non-dedicated network servers provide access to numerous types of data, applications, and are subject to myriad types of requests. Those requests invariably slow their performance. NAS, again because of its dedicated nature and design, is largely immune to performance bottlenecks associated with multiple server requests.
  • Resource Allocation. NAS provides storage resources that can be shared by multiple computers and servers, irrespective of type, operating system or architecture.
  • Simple Management. Network attached storage appliances can be managed from any location from a browser, meaning that there are no physical location barriers to managing and maintaining a NAS appliance.
  • Cost benefits. NAS appliances have become quite inexpensive, making them a very attractive option to other competing types of network storage. Moreover, NAS solutions require no software or licenses, making them a very cost-effective means by which to meet your company's storage requirements.

NAS File Sharing Protocols

Communication with a NAS box occurs over TCP/IP. NAS appliances utilize one of the higher-level protocols for file sharing across the network (NFS, SMB/CIFS, AFP), and come preconfigured to quickly integrate with an existing network infrastructure. For instance, AS' CIFS/SMB protocol support ensures that is to be fully compatible with Active Directory and all supported clients in a Windows network environment.

NAS Solutions from QNAP

According to Gartner, organizations that do not develop an initial networking strategy will spend 20-80% more on their network than those who invested in developing and implementing a plan. As such, Neteam highly recommends that you devise a long-term network storage strategy using proven vendors like QNAP. We mention this vendor specifically because of their impeccable reputation for quality, reliable equipment, their wide-ranging selection of NAS devices, and its adherence to industry compliance and regulatory standards.

Contact a Neteam representative today to learn more about NAS solution we can help you implement.



Storage Area Networks (SANs)

NetApp SAN

Storage centralization, centralized management, and consolidation resources allow organizations to safely share data efficiently across the entire network. The most common technology used for enterprise-wide storage as Storage Area Networks (SANs). SAN solutions are pivotal for effective disaster recovery, business continuity, storage virtualization, and backup and restore procedures critical to the health and functionality of a data center. SANs are the natural successor to direct attached storage (DAS) solutions.

What is a SAN

A SAN is a subnet, typically based on fibre channel, which accommodates rapid data transfers between computer platforms and multiple storage elements. SANs allow network-resident storage devices (disk arrays, tape libraries, optical jukeboxes) to be accessed from all servers by making them appear to be locally installed devices to the operating system. A SAN is comprised of a communication layer, which facilitates the physical connections, and a management layer, which provides the organizational tier for fast and secure data transfers.

Why Use a SAN?

Traditional means for connecting servers and storage do not adequately support the massive data transfers requirements for large network installations. Small Computer Systems Interface (SCSI) technology employs parallel cabling, which does not have the technical capacity for fast data transfers across large physical distances. Nor do SCSI connections support a heterogeneous storage environment. Furthermore, storage options are greatly restricted in typical server/storage environments, in as much as a designated server is the exclusive owner of a storage device. Connections make the server the exclusive owner of its attached storage. Storage Area Networks as such allow storage resources to be shared quickly, seamlessly, and cost-effectively across the entire enterprise.

Storage Area Networks provide the following benefits:

  • Availability: A single copy of data is accessible to all network users.
  • Reliability: SANs are distinguished by their low error rated, and their ability to recover from failures.
  • Scalability: Servers and storage devices may be added incrementally and apart from each other.
  • Performance: Fibre Channel. The most common means by which to achieve SAN connectivity, transfers data at 100MB/sec bandwidth, and effectively segregates storage form network I/O.
  • Manageability: New solutions and emerging standards for FC-AL and Fibre Channel fabrics accommodate centralized management and accurate and responsive error detection and correction.

Replication & Redundancy

Because of the centralized storage capabilities, SANs are tremendously valuable for creating network-wide data clones for testing, backup, and recovery operations. Data can be quickly restored. In the same sense, SAN replication and redundancy facilitates rapid application development by ensuring the most current data for testing. The ease with which data is managed and restored from a SAN environment is decisively superior to any other network storage scenario.

SANs & Virtualization

Another significant benefit afforded by SANs are their suitability to storage virtualization Virtualization pools physical storage from multiple devices into what appears to be a single storage device that can be managed centrally. Such virtualization greatly speeds backup, archiving, and recovery tasks, and masks the complexities of the SAN environment.

Spanning Geographic Distances with SANs

SANs' versatile capabilities are not restricted to immediate physical locations. The Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP) and iSCSI protocols can be used for long-distance transport, thereby overcoming the intrinsic limitations associated with SCSI transport. As such, SANs are a powerful resource for performing all disaster recovery and storage replication for large WAN installations.

Neteam's engineers are expert in all types of SAN deployments from multiple major vendors including Hitachi Data Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, StorageTek, Brocade, Gadzoox, Veritas, Legato, Computer Associates, Oracle, DataCore, Ancor, Vixel, Sun, and Dell. Contact a Neteam representative today to discuss how we can help you achieve the best network storage solution for your enterprise, be it a small, medium, or large site.