What is network-attached storage (NAS)?
Network-fastened storage (NAS) is dedicated file storage that enables multiple users and heterogeneous client devices to retrieve information from centralized disk capacity. Users on a local area network (LAN) admission the shared storage via a standard Ethernet connection.
NAS devices typically do not take a keyboard or brandish and are configured and managed with a browser-based utility. Each NAS resides on the LAN as an contained network node, defined by its own unique Internet Protocol (IP) address.
NAS stands out for its ease of access, high chapters and low cost. The devices consolidate storage in ane identify and support a cloud tier and tasks, such as archiving and backup.
NAS and storage expanse networks (SANs) are the two chief types of networked storage. NAS handles unstructured data, such as sound, video, websites, text files and Microsoft Office documents. SANs are designed primarily for block storage within databases, also known as
What is network-attached storage used for?
The purpose of NAS is to enable users to collaborate and share data more effectively. It is useful to distributed teams that need remote access or piece of work in unlike fourth dimension zones. NAS connects to a wireless router, making it like shooting fish in a barrel for distributed workers to access files from any desktop or mobile device with a network connection. Organizations commonly deploy a NAS environs as the foundation for a personal or individual deject.
Some NAS products are designed for utilize in large enterprises. Others are for abode offices or small businesses. Devices unremarkably contain at least two bulldoze bays, although unmarried-bay systems are available for noncritical data. Enterprise NAS gear is designed with more high-end data features to aid storage management and usually comes with at least 4 bulldoze bays.
Prior to NAS, enterprises had to configure and manage hundreds or even thousands of file servers. To aggrandize storage capacity, NAS appliances are outfitted with more than or larger disks, known as
calibration-up NAS. Appliances are too amassed together for scale-out storage.
In improver, about NAS vendors partner with deject storage providers to give customers the flexibility of redundant backup.
While collaboration is a virtue of NAS, it tin can also be problematic. Network-attached storage relies on hard disk drive drives (HDDs) to serve information. Input/output (I/O) contention can occur when too many users overwhelm the system with requests at the same time. Newer systems use faster wink storage, either every bit a tier aslope HDDs or in all-flash configurations.
NAS employ cases and examples
The applications to be used determine the type of HDD selected for a NAS device. Sharing Microsoft Excel spreadsheets or Word documents with co-workers is a routine task, as is performing periodic data fill-in. Conversely, using NAS to handle large volumes of streaming media files requires larger capacity disks, more than retentivity and more powerful network processing.
At abode, people use a NAS arrangement to store and serve multimedia files and to automate backups. Home users rely on NAS to practise the following:
- manage smart TV storage;
- manage security systems and security updates;
- manage consumer-based internet of things components;
- create a media streaming service;
- manage torrent files;
- host a personal cloud server; and
- create, test and develop a personal website.
In the enterprise, NAS is used:
- as a backup target, using a NAS array, for archiving and disaster recovery;
- for testing and developing web-based and server-side spider web applications;
- for hosting messaging applications;
- for hosting server-based, open source applications such as customer relationship management, human resource management, and enterprise resource planning applications; and
- for serving e-mail, multimedia files, databases and print jobs.
An instance of how enterprises utilise the applied science is when a visitor imports many images every mean solar day. The company cannot stream this data to the cloud because of latency. Instead, information technology uses an enterprise-course NAS to store the images and cloud caching to maintain connections to the images stored on bounds.
Higher-stop NAS products have enough disks to support redundant assortment of contained disks, or RAID, which is a storage configuration that turns multiple difficult disks into 1 logical unit to boost operation, loftier availability and redundancy.
NAS production categories
NAS devices are grouped in three categories based on the number of drives, drive back up, bulldoze capacity and scalability.
High-finish or enterprise
The loftier finish of the market is driven by organizations that demand to store vast quantities of file data, including virtual automobile (VM) images. Enterprise devices provide rapid access and clustering capabilities. The clustering concept addresses drawbacks associated with traditional NAS.
For instance, one device allocated to an organization’s primary storage space creates a potential unmarried betoken of failure. Spreading mission-critical applications and file information across multiple boxes and adhering to scheduled backups decrease the adventure.
Clustered NAS systems also reduce NAS sprawl. A distributed file arrangement runs concurrently on multiple NAS devices. This approach provides access to all files in the cluster, regardless of the physical node on which it resides.
The midmarket accommodates businesses that require several hundred terabytes (TB) of information. These devices cannot be amassed, however, which can lead to file system siloes if multiple NAS devices are required.
Low-end or desktop
The depression end is aimed at domicile users and small businesses that require local shared storage. This market is shifting toward a cloud services model, with products such as Buurst’south SoftNAS Cloud and software-divers storage (SDS) from legacy storage vendors.
NAS deployments for business
The chart below describes v different ways network-attached storage can be deployed and lists the pros and cons for each arroyo. Each deployment can hands be managed by a single network manager.
The different deployment approaches include:
These are all-time for large, enterprise-class users who take a SAN.
This approach works well for users of all sizes without a SAN.
Clustered file systems.
Large compute cluster users who demand high-performance access to file data find these clustered file systems
Parallel file systems.
These also work well for large compute cluster users requiring loftier-performance file data access or whatsoever organization needing parallel admission to file data.
These are ideal for multibox and multivendor environments.
What’south the future of network-fastened storage?
The baseline functionality of NAS devices has broadened to back up virtualization. Loftier-end NAS products may too support data deduplication, flash storage, multiprotocol admission and data replication.
Some NAS devices run a standard operating system, such as Microsoft Windows, while others run a vendor’s proprietary OS. IP is the most common data transport protocol, but some midmarket NAS products may support additional protocols, such as:
- Network File System
- Internetwork Packet Commutation
- NetBIOS Extended User Interface
- Server Bulletin Block (SMB)
- Common Internet File Organisation (CIFS)
Additionally, high-cease NAS devices may support Gigabit Ethernet for fifty-fifty faster information transfer across the network.
Some larger enterprises are switching to object storage for capacity reasons. All the same, NAS devices are expected to go along to exist useful for small and medium-sized businesses.
Scale-upwards and calibration-out NAS vs. object storage
Scale-upwardly and scale-out are ii versions of NAS. Object storage is an alternative to NAS for handling unstructured information.
In a network-fastened storage deployment, the NAS head is the hardware that performs the control functions. Information technology provides admission to back-end storage through an internet connection. This configuration is known as
scale-upwardly architecture. A two-controller system expands capacity with the addition of drive shelves, depending on the scalability of the controllers.
With scale-out systems, the storage administrator installs larger heads and more hard disks to boost storage capacity. Scaling out provides the flexibility to adapt to an organization’s business concern needs. Enterprise scale-out systems can store billions of files without the operation tradeoff of doing metadata searches.
Some industry experts speculate that object storage will overtake scale-out NAS. Yet, information technology’s possible the two technologies will continue to function side by side. Both storage methodologies deal with scale, simply in different means.
NAS files are centrally managed via the Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX). It provides information security and ensures multiple applications can share a scale-out device without fearfulness that one awarding will overwrite a file being accessed by other users.
Object storage is a new method for easily scalable storage in web-scale environments. It is useful for unstructured data that is not easily compressible, particularly large video files.
Object storage does not use POSIX or any file arrangement. Instead, all the objects are presented in a apartment address space. $.25 of metadata are added to describe each object, enabling quick identification within a flat address namespace.
NAS vs. DAS
Direct-fastened storage (DAS) refers to a dedicated server or storage device that is non connected to a network. A computer’due south internal HDD is the simplest example of DAS. To admission DAS files, the user must take admission to the physical storage.
DAS has better performance than NAS, especially for compute-intensive software programs. In its barest form, DAS may be nothing more than the drives that go in a server.
With DAS, the storage on each device must be separately managed, adding a layer of complication. Different NAS, DAS does not lend itself well to shared storage past multiple users.
NAS vs. SAN
What are the differences between SAN and NAS? A SAN organizes storage resources on an independent, high-performance network. Network-attached storage handles I/O requests for individual files, whereas a SAN manages I/O requests for contiguous blocks of information.
NAS traffic moves across Transmission Command Protocol/Internet Protocol, such as Ethernet. SAN, on the other hand, routes network traffic over the Fibre Channel (FC) protocol designed specifically for storage networks. SANs tin can likewise employ the Ethernet-based Net Small Estimator Organization Interface (iSCSI) protocol instead of FC.
While NAS can be a unmarried device, a SAN provides full block-level admission to a server’s disk volumes. Put some other style, a client Os volition view NAS every bit a file system, while a SAN appears to the disk as the customer Bone.
Until recently, technological barriers take kept the file and cake storage worlds separate. Each has had its own management domain and its own strengths and weaknesses. The prevailing view of storage managers was that block storage is showtime class and file storage is economy class. Giving rise to this notion was a prevalence of business-critical databases housed on SANs.
With the emergence of unified storage, vendors sought to improve big-scale file storage with SAN/NAS convergence. This consolidates block- and file-based data on one storage assortment. Convergence supports SAN cake I/O and NAS file I/O in the same set of switches.
The concept of hyper-convergence first appeared in 2014, pioneered by market leaders Nutanix and SimpliVity Corp., now part of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) bundles the computing, network, SDS and virtualization resources on a single appliance.
HCI systems puddle tiers of different storage media and present it to a hypervisor as a NAS mountain indicate. They practice this even though the underlying shared resource is block-based storage. Even so, a drawback of HCI is that only the near basic file services are provided. That means a data center may however demand to implement a separate network with attached file storage.
Converged infrastructure (CI) packages servers, networking, storage and virtualization resources on hardware that the vendor has prevalidated. Unlike HCI, which consolidates devices in i chassis, CI is split up devices. This gives customers greater flexibility in edifice their storage compages. Organizations looking to simplify storage management may opt for CI or HCI systems to replace a NAS or SAN environment.
NAS and file storage vendors
Despite the growth in flash storage, NAS systems still primarily rely on spinning media. The listing of vendors is extensive, with about offer more than than ane configuration to assist customers remainder capacity and performance.
NAS systems come up fully populated with disks or as a diskless chassis where customers add together HDDs from their preferred vendor. Drive-makers Seagate Technology, Western Digital and others work with NAS vendors to develop and authorize media.
Vendors of NAS appliances or scalable file storage include the post-obit:
Accusys Storage Ltd.
supplies scalable shared flash with Peripheral Component Interconnect Express-based ExaSAN. Accusys Gamma and T-Share devices are Thunderbolt ii-designed devices with congenital-in RAID.
is a subsidiary of Taiwanese figurer electronics giant Asus. It offers NAS models for personal and business organization utilize.
Buffalo Americas Inc.
offers TeraStation desktop and rackmount NAS appliances. Buffalo’south LinkStation NAS devices are targeted at small business and individuals.
SoftNAS Cloud NAS software-only product enables customers to scale information migration to Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and VMware vSphere.
added a scale-up NAS pick every bit a managed service to complement its block storage and hybrid data protection.
specializes in storage systems for high-functioning computing, including the ExaScaler arrays engineered for high parallelization.
certified its scale-out file server to enable tunable, shared clustered storage to Windows Server 2019.
Isilon is a scale-out NAS offered in a deejay and an all-flash model.
5N NAS is a low-end complement to the Drobo B810i and B1200i iSCSI midrange arrays.
jumped in the market in 2017 with NVMesh Server SAN software, which sits between block drives and logical file systems. Information technology writes data directly to not-volatile memory limited devices using its patented Remote Directly Drive Admission.
Celvin NAS servers are suited for backup, cloud, file sharing and SAN integration cases.
offers Hitachi NAS Platform, which combines Hitachi’s Virtual Storage Platform arrays and Storage Virtualization Operating System and is geared to large VMware environments.
branched into NAS with StoreEasy models in varying capacities and price points.
OceanStor 9000 features a symmetrically distributed compages that scales from three to 288 nodes.
Spectrum NAS combines IBM Spectrum SDS with storage hardware. Spectrum NAS runs on x86 servers. IBM Spectrum Scale handles file storage for loftier-performance calculating. Spectrum Scale is SDS based on IBM’s General Parallel File System.
built the petabyte-calibration InfiniBox unified NAS and SAN array predominantly with disk. Information technology used a B-tree compages that caches data and metadata on SSDs, enabling reads directly on the nodes.
designs consumer-oriented FreeNAS and TrueNAS for enterprises. Customers tin purchase arranged IXSystems TrueOS software and TrueNAS hardware or download and install FreeOS on their preferred choice of servers.
Microsoft Avere Systems
FXT Edge Filer, with a file system designed for object storage, offers cloud-integrated hybrid storage that works with an organization’southward NAS and Azure Blob Storage.
helped pioneer the utilise of an extensible file system with its Fabric-Attached Storage and All Flash FAS.
ReadyNAS is bachelor in desktop and rackmount models equally storage for hybrid and individual clouds.
NexentaStor is SDS that also supports FC and NAS. The software runs on bare metal, VMware hosts or inside VMs on hyper-converged hardware.
Unity durability-focused arrays handle SAN and NAS protocols, enabling hybrid media to support mixed workloads, especially in rugged concrete locations.
ActiveStor parallel hybrid scale-out system runs the PanFS file system.
positions its all-wink FlashBlade as a highly scalable platform for big data analytics.
QNAP Systems Inc.
has an all-encompassing NAS portfolio that spans modest and midsize businesses, as well as midrange and high-end enterprises. It also has products for home users.
launched Xcellis scale-out NAS to compete with Dell EMC Isilon and NetApp FAS. Xcellis uses the Quantum StorNext scalable file system.
Cadre file storage was developed past several of the creators of the Dell EMC Isilon technology. The Cadre Os runs on Qumulo C-serial and P-serial branded arrays, also as article servers.
enterprise services include dedicated NAS based on the NetApp OnTap Os for managed block- and file-level storage.
integrates BrickStor unified storage with Seagate disk and StorOne enclosures and sells it as the Secure Data Protection Platform.
BlackArmor NAS 220 enterprise arrays scale from 1 TB to 6 TB, with smaller BlackArmor models topping out at 2 TB. Seagate Personal Cloud NAS targets the consumer marketplace with capacity up to 5 TB.
introduced BlackPearl NAS ranging from 48 TB to 420 TB of optional hybrid flash in a 4U rack.
StorageCraft Technology Corp.
doesn’t technically accept NAS only positions the OneXafe platform as a scale-out culling.
offers NAS devices for business and personal uses, including DiskStation NAS, FS/XS Series, J Series, Plus Series and Value Series.
Thecus Engineering Corp.
markets a range of NAS appliances.
PowerBay NAS supports 4 hot-swappable HDD cartridges that tin can be configured for various RAID levels. Verbatim is a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Chemical Corp.
VM-deployed NAS software gets installed on flash-enabled x86 servers, using its parallel file arrangement to scale to trillions of files.
Western Digital Corp.
My Cloud NAS comes in various models with branded HelioSeal helium HDDs. Portable, rugged NAS likewise is available through Western Digital’due south G-Engineering subsidiary.
cloud NAS provides scalable file storage equally a service with the software-defined Zadara VPSA Storage Array.
Deject-based file storage
In add-on to NAS devices, some data centers augment or replace physical NAS with deject-based file storage. Amazon Elastic File System is the scalable storage in Amazon Rubberband Compute Cloud. Similarly, Microsoft Azure File Service furnishes managed file shares based on SMB and CIFS that local and cloud-based deployments can use.
Non as mutual now, NAS gateways formerly enabled files to access externally attached storage, either connecting to a high-performance area network over FC or just a bunch of disks in attached servers. NAS gateways are however in apply, but less frequently; customers are more likely to use a cloud storage gateway, object storage or scale-out NAS.
A cloud gateway sits at the edge of a company’s data center network, shuttling applications between local storage and the public cloud. Nasuni Corp. created the cloud-native UniFS file system software, bundled on Dell PowerEdge servers or bachelor as a virtual storage appliance.
Nasuni rival Panzura provides a like service with its Panzura CloudFS file organization and Liberty Filer enshroud appliances.
Learn more than about
5 key benefits of deject storage
: scalability, flexibility, multi-tenancy, simpler data migration and lower price disaster recovery.