Data Storage Methods to Dig Gold for Organizations

By CIOReview | Monday, August 8, 2016
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The digital world is meshed with wires and networks with binaries continuously flowing from source to destination and back in the form of packets and other modes. Storing data is the need of the hour for today’s IT organizations; CIOs are in need of a flexible and reliable storage system that will fulfill the organization’s necessity. Every storage system has its own features and functions which differ with the others, where the features may or may not be suitable for the organization. Choosing the correct data storage system may help dig more gold for the organization and here are up-to-the-minute storage systems that may help broaden the IT horizon of an organization.    

Disk and Drives or Direct Attached Storage (DAS): 

Digital storage systems that can be attached to the computer directly are coined as DAS—hard drives, optical disc drives, and external drives. The traditional magnetic coated spinning Hard Disk Drives (HDD) are the basic non-volatile storage on the computer. The coating stores the data, enabling the user to read/write the data while the disk is rotating. HDDs are easily portable providing faster data backup and recovery. Similarly, Solid State Drives (SSDs) have the same functionality as that of the HDD—saving data while the system is off, booting your system and many more, but uses microchip to store data instead of magnetic coated spinning disk. 

Weighing the pros and cons of HDD and SSD: 

Cost: SSD is expensive than the HDD 

Data storage capacity: SSD tops against HDD in terms of storage capacity.

Speed: A PC or laptop equipped with an SSD may reboot and launch application faster than compared to an HDD powered device.

Fragmentation and Durability: An HDD requires one complete rotation to start and end its drive read, larger files are scattered around the disk platter. Whereas, there is no physical read heads in an SSD as data is stored in microchips, inherently making SSD faster than that of the HDD. For users who are rough on their device, an SSD is recommended as it does not have any mechanical parts.

Form factors: The spinning disk in HDD limits the size; SSD has no limitation. In the future as laptops get slimmer the use of SSDs will skyrocket.

Noise: HDDs make more noise compared to the SSDs as it has mechanical spinning disk platter.  

Network Attached Storage (NAS):

NAS basically leverages file-level data storage server connected to a computer network which enables users on local network to access, upload, modify and perform other tasks on the data within that drive. Each NAS drive has its own IP address so that users can access NAS drive directly using the IP address. For instance, if users are serving HD videos over home network to two tablets, a laptop, and a smart TV simultaneously, users need an NAS with higher specifications for memory, processor, and network capabilities. 

Some of the important specifications that should be eyed by a CIO before investing on NAS device:

File Security: NAS devices support file encryption and offer security controls against intruders. Some NAS vendors’ products support Microsoft’s Active Directory, allowing users to access their private folders based on their Windows server username and password. 

Storage capacity: The basic NAS has one internal hard drive or no disk. Diskless NAS means it has empty bays for disks which later can be installed by the user. However, for home networks 1 TB or 2 TB is sufficient; for large office that uses tons of files and documents locally can go for a rack mounted Windows or Linux file server as they come with integrated functions like web and email servers. A NAS with multiple drives will usually come with some form of RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) to keep the data safe.

Connectivity: Files in NAS can be served through wired or wireless networks as Ethernet connects it to the router.

Components: NAS has components similar to that of a PC’s CPU, Memory, Operating System, Processor. An NAS model with 512 MB of system memory and dual-core processor is sufficient to serve half-dozen devices.

Software and setup: An NAS device comes with an OS which whittle the functionality down to file storage, file transfer, user access, and keeping the NAS running efficiently. NAS leverages standard login password and username combination allowing the user to setup group permission to folders. Some NAS requests an installer from CD or DVD or a setup from website. Users just need to follow the prompts and a multi-terabyte storage setup is ready. 

Cost:  The basic NAS with 2TB hard drive starts around $150 but the price goes up for more complex NAS. A business class NAS—Western Digital My Cloud DL4100 with preconfigured 6Tb hard drive costs around $1529.

Storage Area Network (SAN):

SAN provides access to consolidated block level storage. A block level storage functions like a hard drive in a server except that the hard drive happens to be installed in a remote area which is accessible using FC (Fibre Channel) or iSCSI (Internet Small Communication System Interface) connectivity mechanism. FC is used where mission-critical applications require uninterrupted data access, whereas iSCSI offers a low cost IP network infrastructure. SAN eliminates the traditional network bottlenecks by appearing as attached drives in the servers.

Implementation of SAN device in the server offers:

Storage virtualization: Appearing in the network servers, an SAN device links software applications to large and consolidated storage pools in a remote location, emphasizing Storage virtualization. 

High-Speed Disk Technologies: FC offers more than 5Gbps of data retrieval speed with direct data transmission from source to target device with reduced server intervention.

Centralized backup: The advanced block level storage system featured SAN device allow storage of data on local disks, eliminating the risk of data storage on multiple disk and server connections. Network administrator need not worry about the backups to streamline the IT system.

Dynamic Failure Protection: Featuring disaster backup and recovery provides continuous network operation when there is any failure in the network by automatic re-routing and built-in redundancy. 

The rising customer’s requirements across the globe for a well adapted storage system for their IT system embarked SAN-NAS hybrid, offering both file-level protocols of NAS and block-level protocols of SAN devices. OpenFiler is a software product running on Linux-based system that offers both file and block level protocols