Storage options for medium and large shops can get to be confusing - so confusing, in fact, that simply determining which category of storage solution you should be looking at might be a challenge. Of course, there's always the promised (we italicized that on purpose) simplicity of cloud-based storage, but for those not ready to make that leap of faith, deciding on the best in-house storage is dicey, particularly for those who are new to the market.
Our Arthur Cole does a a great job in his blog of tracking ongoing issues of scale, flexibility and price point that factor into the decision on whether to go with a Storage Area Network (SAN), Network Attached Storage (NAS) or a good, old-fashion server cluster.
If you are looking for a little additional help, the Storage Appropriateness Assessment Tool, from our partners at Info~Tech Research Group, helps you rate your storage needs on key criteria. The tool, which is available for free download here in the IT Downloads library, then suggests which category of solution is best suited for your needs.
The Excel-based tool asks you to rate the relevance of statements about storage needs to the realities of your business, as you can see in the image below.
The areas addressed in the quick survey are:
Once the survey is complete, your needs are presented on a scale of first- and second-best fit, as you can see in the image below.
In our example, we said that virtualization is somewhat important; that almost all our data is business-critical; that our budget is very tight; and that we do plan to expand out storage capacity in the next five years. (Sound familiar?)
The tool responded that we should probably consider an Enterprise NAS or Tier 2 SAN solution. Our needs simply outpace an iSCSI Cluster, but we probably don't need the full capacity of a Tier-One SAN solution, primarily due to a pretty low volume of data being stored in our example case.