Introduction to network attached storage (NAS

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While a SAN overcomes these problems, Fibre Channel components and management tools can be too expensive and too complex for basic network storage tasks. Network attached storage (NAS) offers accessibility and performance that falls between server storage and SAN storage. Traditional NAS devices attach to the LAN through an ordinary Ethernet connection and IP address, providing disk storage as an independent network device (although NAS devices can also be added to a SAN). Multiple NAS "boxes" can be added to the LAN as needed for additional network storage. NAS hardware and architecture A NAS box is a dedicated storage server that includes a NAS head and disk drives that are attached to a network. The NAS head (aka NAS front end or NAS gateway) is the control electronics that interface the network and storage. A basic NAS may use just one head or share the internal storage across multiple heads to accommodate increased network bandwidth. In terms of storage, NAS systems are denoted by their drive support, the total number of drives and the total capacity. SATA drives are by far the most common type of drive in NAS systems. SATA drives allow for low-cost high-density NAS storage, although ATA, SCSI, SATAand SAS drives also also used. Even Fibre Channel (FC) drives can be used in high-end NAS models. Workgroup-type NAS systems support 1 TB to 2 TB of disk storage (or more) with a small group of four to six hard disks, depending on the model and options selected. (Some models support expansion disk racks that allow extended storage up to 30 TB.) Enterprise-class NAS systems can implement many disks and offer capacities well over 100 TB. Most NAS systems include RAID support for data protection and can implement common RAID levels, including RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5 and RAID 6/DP. NAS systems also include some onboard memory (RAM) to cache network data to or from the disks. Small NAS devices may only provide a 128 MB to 256 MB cache, though enterprise-class NAS systems may offer cache up to 4 GB. A NAS box must actually connect to the LAN, so the network interface is also important. Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) ports are almost universal and 10 Gigabit Ethernet interfaces are on the horizon. Some NAS products provide multiple Ethernet connections for network interface aggregation, redundancy or failover. As an example, consider the V800 workgroup NAS system from Mpak Technologies. The V800 supports up to eight ATA disks in RAID configurations to level 5. The unit includes up to 512 MB of cache and offers two 10/100 Ethernet ports (GigE ports are an option). By comparison, the

Dedicated NAS virtualization appliances are typically installed between NAS boxes and the network. and are managed and configured using integrated software utilities that run across any standard Web browser. OnStor Inc. it's important to test the utilities included with the unit to ensure that the software will behave properly on your network. Similar in principle to clustered computing. The same virtualization technologies that can treat a variety of storage resources as a single pool of storage can also be applied to NAS devices -. NAS devices interact with the LAN using various protocols that manage activities like networking. NAS devices frequently include utilities to tackle tasks such as snapshot.and should present detailed information through a single console. Sun's StorEdge 5310 NAS includes support for CIFS/SMB. file exchanges and applications. they can also be aggregated into clusters. NFS v2 and v3. This allows storage administrators to check NAS status.locating. As more NAS boxes appear on the LAN. CIFS complements existing Internet application protocols like the FTP and HTTP. Networking protocols include Novell Inc. NAS management NAS devices typically run their own proprietary operating system. . or even the SAN. provides a clustered NAS gateway designed to interconnect Windows. natively supports 18 disks up to 2. NAS devices can share and exchange files using recognized file protocols like Sun's NFS or the CIFSopen standard based on Microsoft's Server Message Block (SMB) protocol.StorEdge 5310 NAS from Sun Microsystems Inc. and FTP.'s IPX and Microsoft's NetBEUI. Any management tool(s) should include support for the NAS boxes on your LAN -. For example. Eventually. NAS clusters appear to the LAN as a single NAS device. more management time is required. NAS protocols Protocols are sets of rules that define the way that two end points communicate. this can strain limited IT staff. NetBIOS. When evaluating a NAS product. improving storage performance and achieving high storage availability.6 TB and 4 GB of onboard cache. identifying and combining NAS resources so that they can be treated and managed as a single entity (ideally through a single management console). Every NAS box will absolutely require some amount of routine management work. Linux and Unix client systems with up to 40 PB of storage capacity from a variety of vendors. but NAS management overhead is cumulative. and includes two 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports for connectivity. replication or backup. NAS virtualization is one way to deal with management overhead.including discovery -. While NAS boxes typically work independently. diagnose issues and make changes to the NAS configuration from any workstation on the LAN. Each clustered element can share the data load and each box in the cluster can provide failover if another box fails.

RAID data protection features and cost-effectiveness. some NAS appliances are dedicated to backup tasks. Disk space is finite. These features. and NAS systems will eventually fill with backup data. The NearStore system from NetApp is designed for nearline storage from 8 TB to 96 TB using inexpensive SATA disks. forcing older backups to be deleted or offloaded to tape.NAS backup Today's tighter backup windows and shrinking recovery objectives are forcing storage administrators to rethink their tape backup strategies. More information is available about the NDMP here. so organizations relying on tape for off-site disaster protection may need to continue periodic tape backups. are making NAS devices attractive backup targets. Disk storage also remains on-site. combined with ease of installation. Although any NAS box can be used for backups. When employing a NAS system as a backup target. remember that NAS does not replace tape backups completely. be sure your backup software supports the network data management protocol (NDMP). While NAS may provide an attractive backup target for some applications. Backup software should also be compatible with the version of NDMP in use. . Disk storage is displacing tape as abackup medium for its enhanced speed.

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