Is NAS the Right Solution for SMBs' Storage Challenges?

By CIOReview | Friday, December 23, 2016
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With the proliferation of data, storage has become a critical issue for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Small and Midsize Businesses (SMBs), in particular, are trying hard to leverage the development that has taken place in the storage arena. SMBs are now opting for Network Attached Storage (NAS) as they are relatively cheap compared to Storage Area Networks (SANs). However, challenges such as secure data storage, quick recovery time, and backup needs have to be adequately addressed before selecting a NAS; else it would have a negative impact on the business prospects. Storage is a complicated issue and every care must be taken regarding the choice of the storage solution as any wrong choice might lead to a disaster.

One of the most common and prevalent issues that has come to the fore with SMBs is the inappropriate use of NAS equipments. The infrastructure connecting to the NAS should support Gigabit Ethernet. Another issue that is of prime importance is the use of Wi-Fi. While Wi-Fi may be a good choice for the transfer of small files, it becomes a hindrance when it comes to larger files.

Advantages of NAS for SMBs:

  • NAS is easy to access and stores data as files. It supports both CISF and NFS protocols, which helps multiple users access the files simultaneously.
  • As it can support many RAID levels, NAS is a viable option for SMBs.
  • A NAS device is connected to the Ethernet, which is cost effective and is of great help to SMBs.
  • The tools required to manage the Ethernet is well known and it doesn’t require any extra knowledge or training.
  • Easy to install and configure.

Now the question arises, what is the most important aspect that SMBs should look at before installing a NAS device? The major benefit that goes in favor of a NAS device is the fact that it provides users the opportunity to share files over the network enabling multiple users to benefit from the NAS device. Another factor to consider is how much storage capacity does one need. The simplest NAS device has space for one internal hard drive, while there are others which can have two or more drives.

Data deduplication is another aspect that is critical to NAS. Data deduplication reduces the amount of data stored on NAS considerably, so that enterprises have comparatively less data to deal with, which is a big relief.

Additionally, balancing RAID levels is another important issue that should be taken care off while installing NAS devices. There are many recognized (RAID) levels but there are only few that suffice SMBs’ needs. Each RAID level provides a combination of important factors, such as reliability, capacity, and performance. Some of the most commonly used RAID levels are:

  • RAID 1: In RAID 1 the data is written twice on two different disks. It is easy to restore in case of any failure and also provides good security cover.
  • RAID 5: RAID 5 is the most commonly used and is an economical option for SMBs as compared to RAID 6 and RAID 10.

While NAS is an economical choice for collaboration and sharing, it really isn’t the ideal choice for performance-based applications. The downside of NAS is its complex nature and generally enterprises would not want to operate a heavily and more frequently used database from a NAS. A careful consideration of all the aspects should be taken into account before opting for a network storage device to take care of business needs.