Storage architectures are starting to shift from a direct-attached model to one in which the storage devices are connected to an organisation's servers via a network. Moving from a direct-attached storage solution to a network-attached storage solution can be a daunting task for an IS manager. The transition to a network storage environment is not expected to occur evenly across organisations of different sizes or between industry sectors. Understanding which environment best suits an organisation's needs at the best price point can take quite a bit of time, especially when you have to educate yourself on the plethora of possibilities.
There are strong reasons to shift from a long-standing server-centric model for building their storage resource to a network-centric model. These include:
* Some applications simply cannot continue running in a direct-attached environment.
* Users need to more effectively manage the expanding storage capacity in a climate of headcount or budget limitations.
* Business continuity issues.
* Pressure from new data types and new applications, adding to the complex task facing the IS manager.
* Access to critical enterprise data needs to be provided for users internal to the organisation and also to authorised users external to the organisation.
The increasing use of the Internet for e-commerce applications places significant stress on Web servers, storage devices, and retrieval systems - the repositories of e-business applications and information.
However, despite these compelling reasons, many organisations have chosen for the time being to stay with the status quo. Their storage resource is still associated with the server in a direct attach arrangement.
In a recent survey of 300 organisations in Australia, IDC found that most of the survey respondents (52.3 per cent) have no plans to adopt a SAN infrastructure. However, 32 per cent of respondents indicated that they were considering a SAN implementation. 11 per cent of the respondents have some SAN implementation completed and 4.7 per cent indicated they were currently in the process on implementing a SAN solution.
*Network Attached Storage (NAS) provides a cost-effective way for many organisations to increase the capacity and flexibility of its storage resource without the high up-front costs or lengthy implementation periods associated with complex SAN installations.
A NAS device also offers many benefits, including high accessibility, performance and scalability. The direct and contained manner of NAS lends itself to organisations requiring high-speed, multitasking environments. NAS may also provide some functionality that can not easily be achieved with a SAN or may be appropriate for the storage needs of small and medium organisations or the departmental needs of a larger organisation.
A NAS solution works well if an organisation has:
* A large number of LAN users.
* Lots of client/server applications.
*Lots of data getting passed around.
* Frequently changing users.
* Large numbers of files and objects.
* Multiple operating systems.
Most of the survey respondents in Australia (68 per cent) indicated they had no current plans for introducing NAS. Some 12 per cent of survey respondents indicated they had installed NAS, 3 per cent were presently implementing a NAS solution and 16.7 per cent were considering a NAS solution.
The transition to networked storage is now well under way. As vendors, storage integrators and user organisations become familiar with the technology and are confident that the promised benefits can be realised, IDC expects the uptake to accelerate during the next 15 months. By the end of next year, networked storage will have become the dominant model, largely replacing direct-attached storage.