by November 7, 2009 0 comments

Storage capacity requirements are increasing exponentially by the day. It is
important for an enterprise to provision for its storage requirements for at
least the next five years. This can be done by calculating the volume of data
that gets generated per day/month. Apart from storage requirements, you should
also consider performance, security and reliability of the storage devices. In a
typical enterprise, the storage devices consist of a mix and match of different
technologies, such as SAN, NAS, tape drives, etc. So it is important to look for
a solution which provides easy manageability.

Network Attached Storage
Network attached storage or NAS is often the best and the most cost
effective solution for all storage needs. Contrary to common belief, NAS isn’t
simply a bunch of hard drives packed into a huge box. It’s a complete computer,
with an OS and one or more hard drives, dedicated to making the storage process
easier, and to connect to a network. The OS loaded on it can be Windows or
Linux, which helps in volume and drive management, networking, security, and
user access. It often comes with extended options like backup capability. A
web-based graphical user interface can be used to control and monitor advanced
features and functions of a NAS.

A good management practice for small workgroups is to centralize data on a
NAS. If your information isn’t dispersed on separate PC, then accessing the same
becomes simpler. Maintaining a single device is far easier than adding and
managing local hard drives, as your storage needs increase. Selecting a NAS for
your business requirements becomes a lot easier if these small but crucial
aspects are kept in mind.

Data compression
No matter how many TBs of storage you buy, chances of running out of space
after a point of time are always there. Therefore check whether a NAS box
supports compression, as this would help you utilize the storage capacity more
effectively. Some NAS boxes run proprietary NAS OS and don’t support
compression. However NAS boxes running Windows Storage Server support this

Monitoring and management
Remote management and monitoring is essential. Features that a NAS device
should have are web based interface, remote desktop connectivity, and remote
login through Telnet or SSH, email and SNMP notification, disk quota management,
file screening and storage reports. Another key feature is having an LCD screen
on the NAS, which would show a lot of important information and let you control
the NAS device.

Most NAS devices support backing up data to a local tape drive or network
backup server. In addition, one should also look for snapshot support, which is
incremental point in time copies of stored data created on local device disks
allowing only data restoration without accessing the tape. Some NAS boxes come
with an option of disk backup, where backup is done on NAS storage only. For
this, you have to configure the RAID in such a way that at least one disk
remains free. For example, if you have four drives, then create RAID with three
drives and leave one for disk-based backup. Data replication allows you to keep
an updated copy of critical data at a separate location, online and ready for
use any time, thereby enabling faster DR. DVD backup is another type of backup
that some vendors provide. It’s useful when you need to send out some very
critical data.

Storage security
When it comes to storing your organization’s mission critical data, security
plays a very important role. A NAS device should integrate with your existing
directory service for authentication. Some devices allow you to directly install
an anti-virus software on them, while others let you do remote scanning from an
anti-virus server on the network. Access Control lists allow file and
share-level access for authenticated users and groups to files and folders
stored on the NAS. Check what kind of ACL is supported by the NAS. Logging is
another important thing which a NAS box should have as it enables you to audit
and log most tasks like log on, log off, security modification, password
changes, user creation etc.

Storage Area Networks
Generally suitable for large organizations, a storage area network is an
architecture to attach remote computer storage devices such as disk arrays and
tape libraries in such a way that, to the operating system, the devices appear
to be locally attached. As a result, it lets you manage your infrastructure with
greater flexibility and scalability. It’s a high speed special purpose network
that interconnects different data storage devices with associated data servers.
As compared to SAN, in a NAS, storage is being done on a remote device. Although
different from each other, it is possible to create solutions that incorporate
both SAN and NAS. Nowadays, SANs can work at transfer rater of upto 8 Gbps.

Data de-duplication
The issue of data duplication is becoming serious for enterprises and
redundant data keeps eating up the space. Is there any method to stop this? Data
de-duplication helps in removing duplicate data from storage devices. Here, a
single copy of data is maintained along with the index of the original data, so
that data can be easily retrieved when required. Data de-duplication can be
deployed in two ways -source based and target based. Source based de-duplication
is done before backup, in a primary storage device such as NAS, while in the
target-based method, de-duplication is done after backup. However, in this
method, de-duplication can also be done during the backup, which is known as
inline de-duplication. The benefit of in-line de-duplication over post-process
de-duplication is that it requires less storage as data is not duplicated unlike
post-process de-duplication. Source based data de-duplication is usually
deployed in environments such as file-systems, remote branch office environments
and virtualization environments. In a remote backup scenario, the source based
data de-duplication also means that there will be less data traveling through
the WAN pipe, resulting in effective bandwidth utilization. Target based
de-duplication is a good option where bandwidth is not an issue, such as SAN or
LAN backup environments.

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