Purchase considerations for enterprise NAS!

Data storage needs are meticulously growing in Enterprise storage environments and that’s where a NAS storage appliance is playing a vital role in simplifying the task of taking backups and sharing files among multiple devices. So, after learning about the benefits of NAS appliances, if you are considering an enterprise NAS purchase, here are the important features you should review first.

Form Factor- It’s easy to assume that enterprise grade appliances will be rack mounted, but some are designed to sit on a shelf. So, if your IT team is considering a rack mounted NAS appliance, ask them to first evaluate how much space they are willing to sacrifice as foot print. A 4U appliance will take up more space in the rack than a 2U appliance, but will provide a higher raw storage capacity. So, ask them to keep a track of even small things like these to get the best out of the purchase.

Storage media support- Some vendors offering NAS solutions are using proprietary connectors that force customers to purchase disks from the appliance manufactures. Ask your IT team to verify the disks supported because hardware vendor websites will sometimes offer a seemingly great deal on an appliance without disclose that it is an older model. For example, very recently, a NAS vendor promoted a Network Attached Storage appliance that was being offered at a great price. But the fact was that the appliance was being offered with obsolete SATA 2 disks, instead of SAS drives. It’s like buying a Windows 10 laptop loaded with a 1st generation processor for a price of a laptop loaded with a 6th generation processor. NAS purchasing IT teams should also ask for disk speeds, maximum disc capacity and the appliance overall capacity. Some vendors do not support high capacity drives in their appliance and instead of using a 4TB x4 drives for 16TB capacity; they either use 1TBx16 drives or 2TBx8 drives. As a result the appliance becomes bulky.

Is the appliance easily scalable- Ensure that the appliance you are purchasing has scalability feature. This allows growth of storage capacity in parallel to business. Also go for the appliance which automatically restructures the existing RAID array when you add capacity (hard drives) to the appliance. Otherwise, your IT team should have to delete volumes and rebuild array sets simply because they have added extra disks to the appliance. The appliance should be smart enough to use those disks without the RAID set having to be manually reconstructed. Similarly, if you replace an existing disk with a larger capacity disk, the appliance should be able to use the new disk without you having to manually rebuild the RAID array. Most enterprise NAS appliances support hot-swappable drives, but some appliances make it easier than others to replace a drive. Also some appliance manufactures only entertain disks which are mounted into a special caddy prior to placing the drive in the appliance. Similarly, there are appliances that require the use of special tools to install hard drives.

NAS with storage tiering- Storage tiering refers to the ability of the appliance to use solid-state drives as cache for frequently accessed data. Ideally, the storage tiering feature in the appliance should be automated. The appliance should be able to differentiate between rotational media and solid-state media, and use the solid-state media as a cache without being told to do so. Most importantly, the appliance should have the intelligence to recognize the most frequently accessed data and move it to the cache as per demand. As the demand for the data changes over time, the appliance should dynamically move aging data out of the cache and replace it with fresh, more frequently accessed data.

Networking bandwidth- NAS appliance performance depends on the availability of bandwidth. So, enterprise IT teams should ensure that their appliance which is going to be purchased should contain as many network adapters as possible. It’s also a good idea to verify what speeds are supported. Most enterprise NAS appliances on the market support Gigabit Ethernet some support 10 GB Ethernet and some even 100 GB Ethernet. Most vendors offer network adapters in their appliances as per their choice.

Hardware redundancy- Always go for a NAS appliance which has dual redundant cooling solutions and power supplies. Similarly, there are appliances that let you designate hard disks and network adapters as hot spares that can dynamically take over in the event of a hardware failure. Hardware redundancy is designed to protect against a component-level failure.

Replication- Replication of data helps in recovering data from a remote site, in case, the primary site goes down due to a disaster. Therefore, ensure that your enterprise NAS appliance has the ability to replicate all the data to a secondary appliance on an ongoing basis. Depending on the type of connectivity used in the replication process, it may even be possible to replicate data to a secondary datacenter.

Data storage features- Features like Data deduplication and thin provisioning help in limiting physical storage consumption by eliminating redundant data. Also a NAS appliance should also support storage level encryption to ensure data cannot be retrieved from a stolen drive.

Manageability- Enterprise grade NAS appliances need storage offerings that are highly scalable. Although, a NAS appliance has a limit as to how much data it can store, it is common for large organizations to purchase multiple appliances. In situations, where enterprise IT teams need to deal with more than one appliance, they have to find a way to manage the said appliance in a simple way. An appliance vendor should offer a management portal that allows users to collective gauge the health of the appliance at a glance. Also such portal should also assist in simultaneously configuring multiple appliances.

StoneFly, Inc. offers enterprise NAS appliances which are highly scalable, redundant and performance oriented.

StoneFly Super Scale Out (SSO) NAS storage nodes can scale up to 256 dives and can entertain 2 PB pg data per node. They can be easily scaled to multiple nodes on demand. StoneFly SSO is a perfect solution for managing large quantities of unstructured data within a single global namespace and a single file system.

StoneFly Twin Scale out (TSO) NAS has two nodes that create a clustered replica of user data. So, if one node goes down, other node will not only help in serving data for applications related to both nodes and thus eliminates unnecessary downtime. TSO was designed for markets that require vast quantities of high bandwidth or fast parallel throughput for very large files required by high performance computing in media and entertainment, but also requires maximum redundancy.

Call 510.265.1616 or click on StoneFly Scale Out NAS to know specification.

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