Storage

Guide to Network Attached Storage

NAS best practices: Understand your needs for today and tomorrow

Consider data protection and management, upgrade path

By Deni Connor

There are a number of best practices to keep in mind when implementing NAS devices in your enterprise network. Here are a few issues to consider:

Many NAS appliances come with backup, replication, cloning and high-availability software. You'll need to decide which capability is right for you. Do you need to replicate data to a remote location for disaster-recovery purposes? Do you need to be able to clone data so it is available to other users or applications? Will you back up the data continuously or incrementally? Does the NAS appliance you are buying support Network Data Management Protocol, which separates the data path and the control path, so network data can be backed up locally yet managed from a central location?

Take a look at the redundant connections that are included with the NAS device. Do you need redundant Gigabit Ethernet connections to increase the performance of the box or its availability? In the same vein, do you need redundant iSCSI connections? Do you need access to the Fibre Channel storage-area network? Will using 10Gbit Ethernet connections increase the performance of your network?

Most NAS appliances allow you to upgrade the capacity of the box as your network grows. Take a look at future storage needs and decide the initial capacity for your NAS box; then decide how much capacity you will need a year from now.

NAS appliances come with management software. The breadth of the management capability varies, however. Decide whether you are going to manage a single NAS box or multiple arrays. Will the software support the management of multiple arrays? Can you set policies regarding capacity use, or does the software simply let you handle initial installation and configuration? Software is available that allows you to manage multiple NAS boxes collectively and optimize capacity and plan for future storage purchases.

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