NAS appliance purchasing tips: A network-attached storage guide

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NAS appliance purchasing tips: A network-attached storage guide

Heather Darcy, Associate Editor
Network-attached storage (NAS) appliances are more frequently being used by small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to simplify their growing network storage. Most NAS

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appliances can be upgraded with larger disks for additional storage space -- and more NAS appliances can be added to the network. But choosing the best NAS system for your data storage environment isn't easy.

In this network-attached storage guide for administrators at small- or medium-sized companies, we'll help you decide if a NAS appliance is really the best option for your storage needs, and we'll help you understand the pros and cons of network-attached storage appliances. In addition, we have the latest tips, news and trends on NAS storage for SMBs from our storage experts.

Is a NAS appliance the best choice for your business?

For SMBs who may want to leave file servers and are making the jump to network-attached storage appliances, the decision is not as clear-cut as it is for larger companies. For most SMBs, the benefits of implementing NAS into their data storage environment may include the following: consolidation of file server administration, technology refreshes, reduction of licensing and maintenance costs, and increased flexibility. In this tip, learn whether or not a network-attached storage appliance is the best choice for your organization.

What to look for in a NAS device

To get the most out of your NAS system, you need to consider your needs and options carefully. For example: How well will network-attached storage integrate with your data storage management? Does the NAS device do scheduled backups? Is the NAS device clusterable? Learn about what to ask potential vendors and how to get the best NAS device in this tip.

NAS product guide

What features are most important in a network-attached storage appliance? To help you get up to speed, this article provides a checklist of newer NAS features, and a sampling of some vendors who sell them. The short list of features include: data deduplication, flash drives, multiprotocol access, NAS gateways and replication.

More on NAS appliances
Choosing a midrange network-attached storage (NAS) system

Choosing a NAS filer for small and medium-sized businesses

Cisco launches NSS 300 Series SMB multiprotocol storage platform
And when you're looking for a NAS product, keep in mind that vendors that sell their own NAS technologies are relatively few: Many resell or adapt the technology of others. Fujitsu sells a number of vendors' devices, Hitachi Data Systems resells BlueArc Corp., IBM Corp. resells NetApp, and Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. and Dell use Microsoft Windows Storage Server and Linux as the basis for their NAS products. To learn more about NAS vendors and features, read this guide on NAS products.

A NAS case study on NAS management

When LDiscovery, a legal discovery service firm, migrated from direct-attached storage (DAS) to network-attached storage, the firm thought it could easily handle the 10 TB load that each new client would bring. However, LDiscovery's 250 TB NAS devices started to hit their threshold, and the firm realized it had overlooked a key ingredient to success -- NAS management. Learn about how this SMB handled its NAS management problems in this article.

News, tips and expert advice on NAS appliances

For even more information on NAS appliances for smaller business, bookmark our special section on small business NAS news, trends and tips.

This was first published in June 2010

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