Suppose you run a media production company that generates large multimedia data files. Your data trove grows daily, demanding very scalable storage. What are your options? A storage area network (SAN) is one, but you don’t want the costs and complexities of building and owning a SAN. Moreover, you don’t need hundreds of users to access the files. Network attached storage (NAS) offers greater economy and relative simplicity, but traditionally, NAS hasn’t been associated with scalability.
A new generation of solutions has emerged, however, that gives NAS the scalability it’s always been missing.
Called scale-out NAS, this architecture uses management software to federate storage systems into a unified storage pool. In other words, multiple devices can be consolidated into a single, distributed storage system. Files are easily accessed regardless of their physical location and storage can be increased by adding more drives or even entire arrays. Connecting nodes is generally non-disruptive and the addition of more CPUs and RAM increases performance.
Because the storage components can be commodity products, scale-out NAS is a cost-effective approach for meeting extraordinary or unpredictable data growth. Many cloud providers use scale-out to cohere vast numbers of devices, often x86 computers, into a single large node.
Don’t confuse scale-out NAS with scale-up NAS. The latter is limited to a single form factor or, more precisely, a single storage controller. This means expanding storage requires adding additional drives to a one non-clustered array. Scalability is limited and enterprises must buy larger arrays than they currently need to anticipate future growth.
For companies burdened with economically saving large quantities of data, such as media companies like your production firm, healthcare providers or enterprises engaged in data-intensive, high-performance computing (HPC), scale-out NAS deserves strong consideration.
When evaluating scale-out NAS, make sure your solution meets your needs. It should support fully featured clustering as well as simultaneous NAS and SAN access. By supporting iSCSI, Fibre Channel, and InfiniBand interfaces, it offers the versatility to operate in any environment. Your solution should deliver five nines availability, supporting triple parity RAID to ensure performance even if three drives fail. Additionally, it needs to be easy to deploy and operate, freeing you or your staff from the hassle of specialized training.