Leveraging NAS in the SMB

Paul Mah

I wrote a blog earlier this week in which I examined a couple of reasons why NAS appliances still have a place in the SMB, despite the increasing popularity and usage of cloud computing. Today, I explore another three possible roles for a NAS that an SMB can leverage to their advantage.


As a SAN substitute


I corresponded with Joe Gleinser, the founder and president of GCS Technologies, a technology service provider in Austin, Texas. Gleinser runs a blog called Essential Technology and added a comment to my initial blog earlier this week on NAS in the SMB. One suggestion he made was to consider using a NAS as a substitute for a SAN for organizations that are budget constrained.


Gleinser explains that small businesses with capital investments of less than $15,000 per year won't be able to afford even an entry-level SAN. He wrote, "These products [NAS] allow smaller companies to access the high-end of virtualization's benefits at a low entry price." He rounds up his advice, "Any small office that is compelled by virtualization's benefits but can't afford a true SAN, could view these devices are minimally acceptable substitutes."


End-point for other network appliances


Of course, I'm thinking of NAS appliances such as the Iomega StorCenter for this role. The truth is that regardless of brand, newer NAS generally come with support for network appliances such as network video cameras.


In the context of network video cameras, the storage capabilities of a NAS will come in very useful for monitoring and video capture. In the same vein, other network-enabled devices that require back-end storage can also be supported.


Centralized storage


Finally, we come to one of the core strengths of a NAS - its inherent ability to centralize the data storage in an SMB to a central device. While it is true that additional hard disk and storage mediums such as flash drives cost a pittance these days, the ability to coalesce the data storage of an SMB into a single box has its distinct list of advantages.


Assuming properly configured backups or the use of networked drives, periodic backups of the NAS can serve as restore points for all the data in the company. In addition, the RAID capabilities mean that it is possible to pull out one drive in a RAID 1 rig and use it for an off-site backup, or even for testing and development purposes. Finally, it is also much easier to create user accounts and access rights on one device than trying to maintain proper rights across tens or even hundreds of workstations.


Do you use your NAS in ways not mentioned here? Do feel free to share with us in the comments section below.

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Oct 23, 2009 10:40 AM Paul Mah Paul Mah  says: in response to Bryan Ramona

Hi Bryan, this sounds interesting. Do you have stories of SMB who have successfully implemented your solution to share? Can you drop me an e-mail about that? I'm sure its something our readers will be keen to hear about. Thanks!

Oct 23, 2009 11:33 AM Bryan Ramona Bryan Ramona  says:


I'm very glad you brought up this subject.  As an award-winning technology support company in the Northeast, we have this discussion daily with our customers and prospects.  While you are on point with the prohibitive costs of a SAN for the typical SMB customer, which is our core business, we've brought to market a hosted service that allows for near-real time backups over the wire, accomplishing geographical diversity for those clients who have compliance issues.  We do still use SAN/NAS devices in some instances, but mostly now as a part of a virtualization scheme.  The hosted solution allows us to locate the data in our Tier 1 data center and give a customer recovery time in a matter of minutes, rather than days, all at a comfortable monthly investment rather than a huge initial capital outlay.

Oct 28, 2009 9:29 AM Bryan Ramona Bryan Ramona  says: in response to Paul Mah


Thanks for asking!  I've linked a case study for a major governmental oversight organization in Philadelphia, where our hosted backup was part of an overall reengineering of their IT infrastructure, our "Managed Environment".  This gave them all of the most up-to-date applications and technology, with a built-in refresh cycle, upgrades and extended protection, all for a monthly fee rather than a huge capital outlay upfront with yearly renewals and frequent decisions on upgrading to newer versions.

We have for many other customers separated out just the backup solution as well.  I can give you more information if you need it!


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