IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

A Storage Cheat Sheet for SMB Clients

Scale Computing provides several valuable ways of describing the various storage solution options available to small to midsize businesses. By Geoffrey Oldmixon

For SMB clients with storage needs, a suitable solution might a SAN, NAS, or scale-out storage environment.

But will that mean anything to the discerning, but less-than-savvy, SMB client?

Storage innovator Scale Computing has taken an “educate the buyer” approach to its advertising and communications lately that may help you explain to the buyer your choice of storage solutions.

Below are some useful storage-type definitions provided by Scale Computing.

What Is DAS?

“Direct-attached storage, or DAS, is the most basic level of storage,” states a Feb. 2011 e-newsletter from Scale Computing. “DAS is directly connected to a single server and can only be accessed by that one server.”

The benefits to DAS, according to Scale Computing, are that it is “simple to deploy and has a lower initial cost than networked storage.

The drawbacks are its limitations in scalability and features. “Since resources are not shared beyond a single server,” Scale Computing explains, “systems may use as little as half their full capacities.”

What Is NAS?

Scale Computing offers a handy way of describing network-attached storage. “It shares file-level data across servers and clients,” the company says. This is ideal for enabling multiple clients to access data at the file level. The utilization rate is higher in NAS than in DAS. Moreover, says Scale Computing, “IT administrators can centrally manage NAS systems, thus reducing management time and costs.”

What Are SANs?

Storage area networks (or SANs) provide for block-level data transfer. A good way to explain this benefit to SMB clients is this: “SANs operate on a block level and look like a locally attached disk to the server and application.” For SMBs that deal with bandwidth-intensive applications, like database, imaging, and transaction processing, this type of environment can be very beneficial.

Historically, says Scale Comuting, SAN adoption has had to contend with high costs and a lot of management complexity. Now, however, “iSCSI protocol and high speed Ethernet,” the company says, “has made SAN technology easier to manage and more cost effective.”

What Is Clustered Storage?

Clustered (or scale-out) storage is a system that adds server resources as they are needed. It is a file system over multiple systems.

According to Scale Computing, clustered storage helps growing SMBs avoide “expensive over-provisioning and forklift upgrades when the maximum capacity of a conventional controller-based SAN or NAS is reached.”

About the Author

Geoffrey Oldmixon is a freelance writer based in Western Massachusetts.

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