I came across news of Iomega's next-generation network-attached storage, or NAS a few days ago. I admit that I was on the verge of giving this news a pass, if not for its admittedly impressive capabilities, which caused me to pause.
In a nutshell, not only is the Iomega StorCenter desktop NAS device VMWare-certified, but also comes with support for Windows Active Directory, Linux, as well as Mac environments. In addition, the StorCenter connects directly to up to five Axis Network video cameras for real-time monitoring and video capture. Of course, everything described above is on top of typical capabilities one would expect from an NAS, such as RAID data redundancy, iSCSI block-level access, gigabit Ethernet and a Web interface for easy device management.
Even more than the Netgear NAS System that I wrote about a few months earlier, the Iomega StorCenter NAS is clearly geared toward SMBs.
One question that came to my mind though, is this: With all the talk about cloud computing, do NAS appliances still have a place in the SMB? I believe it does. I list out a couple of reasons below.
As Near-Line Storage
If you've read about how I back up my computer, you will know that my favored method to protect data is to pay for a cloud-based service that syncs both to storage in the clouds, as well as to duplicate the data to other workstations that I own. For duplicating or even making a triplicate of one's data, the cloud makes the task extraordinarily easy and seamless.
Despite the clear advantages in terms of data redundancy and geographical separation afforded by cloud services, the fact is that the Internet can suffer from slow access or be just plain flaky at times. This is especially true in the context of large data files that might be urgently required. Having the data stored on the local-area network, on the other hand, allows these data to be swiftly and reliably retrieved.
To Support Virtualization
While NAS appliances are inherently capable of serving as a network drive, the popularity of virtualization is bringing its capabilities to the fore once again. The reason is simple: It is far more efficient to use a networked drive than to store user files within a virtual server. In addition, attempting to squeeze frequently changing user files into a virtual server will only degrade its performance or bloat it to the point where it is difficult to back up.
Getting a virtual server to map user partitions or folders to a NAS will solve the above situation nicely.
I can think of a few other reasons why it makes sense to use an NAS in your small and medium business, which I shall share in my next blog. In the meantime, do feel free to comment on whether you agree on my above points, or share with us how you use a NAS in your SMB.