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Enterprise Storage Overview
Data within the organization is compiled into an enterprise storage system, a centralized repository for information. Enterprise storage provides common data management, data protection, and data sharing capabilities within an organization. The enterprise storage systems should be scalable without needing extensive cabling or the creation of subsystems. When choosing their enterprise storage system configuration, IT departments are especially interested in systems which boast unlimited connectivity and support for multiple platforms. Within the category of enterprise storage, there are a few common configurations to choose ranging from storage area network to cloud storage.
Storage area network (SAN):
It is a high-performance dedicated network or subnetwork which is separate from the common user network. Within this network various pools of disk and solid-state storage are joined. Multiple servers access the data as if each server was directly connected to the storage. The advantages for a storage area network include high availability, disaster recovery, data sharing, powerful backup and restoration functions, plus remote support and centralized administration capabilities. One of the biggest drawbacks to the SAN configuration is the cost. One of the bigger differences between SAN and a NAS is that SAN can use both Ethernet and Fibre Channel while NAS is Ethernet based only. As a result, SAN is the better solution for many larger IT infrastructures. If an IT department needs a faster return on investment (ROI) than SAN may not be the best option.
Network-attached storage (NAS):
NAS is a good solution for mid to small companies and allows multiple users to access data from a central pool of disk storage. When accessing the shared storage of NAS, it will appear as a node with its own Internet Protocol (IP) address on the local area network (LAN). A few benefits of NAS include, physical security, simplified architecture, a wider availability of information, higher scalability and lower downtime than DAS, and perhaps one of the most appealing benefit is its affordable price. Many IT personnel will want to consider their bandwidth before using a NAS configuration. NAS hardware is bandwidth intensive and depends on the amount of bandwidth available at the location. Due to the wider availability of information to system users, IT managers will have additional security concerns than with other network storage configurations.
Direct attached storage (DAS):
DAS is composed of hard disk or solid-state drives which are connected inside or outside the storage enclosure to one computer or server. A DAS cannot be accessed by any other computers or servers that are not directly connected to the storage array. One distinction of DAS versus SAN and NAS is that it is not networked with Ethernet or FC switches which allows DAS better performance for the one device connected. Data in a DAS is contained within the system and cannot be shared between servers which provides greater data security. The scalability of DAS is finite compared to SAN and NAS devices. Whenever additional storage units are added, the system must be shut down reducing uptime. In a business environment that requires strict uptime or escalating data storage, direct attached storage architecture is not the preferred choice.
Cloud storage offers ease of scalability, low costs, disaster recovery backup options, and storage immortality. IT departments will want to consider a few things before using a cloud storage service. The first consideration is bandwidth because of bandwidth bottlenecks. The bandwidth caps can either severely hinder or stop operations. Bandwidth is costly which hinders many larger operations from finding cloud storage a viable option compared to on premise storage. Another consideration is security because storage is handled and controlled by a third-party. If you represent a small company, cloud storage might be a good temporary option.
Getting it right:
Your data is important, thus your decision for which data storage configurations to use is also important. As many industries, departments, and companies are fueled with data, data must be protected and effectively stored so that it can be retrieved later. Is the choice difficult? Yes, it is. Are you busy? Yes, at least we assume you are. Do you want help? We will need to let you answer that yourself, but what we can say is that we are here to help. At thomastech we empower IT professionals by providing them both the enterprise hardware and support needed to keep data moving within their organizations. You can schedule a free consultation with a thomastech partner today to start planning your storage solutions.