SMB and small business data storage FAQs

Check out our FAQs on storage topics such as SAN, NAS, thin provisioning, DAS, email archiving, CAS, and more.

Get answers to your most important small- fo medium-sized businesses (SMB) FAQs on topics such as storage area networks (SANs), network-attached storage (NAS), thin provisioning, direct-attached storage (DAS), email archiving, content-addressed storage (CAS), and more. SMBs often have less staff and resources than larger enterprises, but their storage needs are just as important. We're constantly updating this page with interviews and podcasts with enterprise data storage experts to get the answers to your SMB data storage management important questions. Whether you are interested in buying your first SAN, are considering outsourcing your data backup and recovery operations to the cloud or want to know about iSCSI vs. Fibre Channel SANs, we have your small business data storage answers here.

>> Small business email archiving services primer

Brian Babineau, vice president of research and analyst services at the Enterprise Strategy Group, discusses email archive services for small businesses in this podcast. Learn about the  challenges SMBs face when it comes to email archiving, the differences between in-house and outsourced email archiving services, what hybrid email archiving is and get insight on some of the affordable email archiving products available to SMBs.

>> Unified storage system FAQ
Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst at The StorageIO Group, discusses unified storage in this Q&A. Learn whether server virtualization is driving the adoption of unified storage in SMBs, the pros and cons of multiprotocol storage and what to consider to determine if a unified storage system is right for your environment. 

>> Small business NAS FAQ
Small business network-attached storage (NAS) systems have been coming out with more enterprise-like NAS features in their products lately. Most recently, NetGear launched its ReadyNAS Pro desktop product for SMBs and remote offices, which is a NAS system that has a fairly robust set of features for a small business-focused product. It comes with enterprise SATA drives, a 100 GB 12-month hybrid cloud subscription, and VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, and data backup software certifications. The ReadyNAS Pro also supports iSCSI. Get your small business NAS FAQs answered when you listen to this podcast.

>> Implementing data deduplication technology in a virtualized environment
In this Q&A with Jeff Boles, senior analyst with the Taneja Group, learn about why organizations are more interested in data dedupe for server virtualization, whether target or source deduplication is better for a virtualized environment, what to watch out for when using dedupe for virtual servers, and what VMware's vStorage APIs have brought to the scene.

>> Shared serial-attached SCSI (SAS) FAQ
Shared serial-attached SCSI (SAS) has emerged as an option for smaller companies that are looking to reap some of the benefits of a storage area network (SAN) without the costs associated with iSCSI or Fibre Channel. Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst with the Storage IO Group, talks about the pros and cons of shared SAS in this Q&A.

>> Choosing and implementing a host bus adapter
Host bus adapters (HBAs) provide input/output processing and physical connectivity between a server and a data storage device. HBAs can also be a common pain point when setting up your storage environment. Tony Palmer, senior lab engineer with Enterprise Strategy Group, answers some frequently asked questions about HBAs.

>> Choosing an affordable backup tape library for a smaller business
As a smaller business grows out of its existing tape backup system, the IT department is faced with a myriad of options for data backup. One option, of course, is to stick with tape and upgrade to a larger, up-to-date backup tape library. Or, maybe a combination of disk and tape backup. Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst with The Storage IO Group, discusses what you should look for when choosing an SMB backup tape library in this Q&A.

>> Electronic discovery best practices for SMBs
Electronic discovery (e-discovery) can be a challenge for organizations of all sizes. Brian Hill, senior analyst with Forrester Research, discusses the specific e-discovery challenges that SMBs face today and outlines e-discovery best practices in this Q&A. Learn about what the No. 1 challenge SMBs encounter when getting started with e-discovery is, and what affordable products are available for SMBs.

>> Backup as a service FAQ
Trying to decide if online data backup, or backup as a service, will be beneficial to your SMB? John Merryman, services director for recovery services at GlassHouse Technologies Inc., discusses the benefits and drawbacks of online backup today. Learn about what online data backup services are best for SMBs and what you need to look for in an online backup provider in this FAQ guide.

For more information on data backup for SMBs:

>> Content addressable storage FAQ
Depending on what industry you work in, compliance can be a major issue and content-adressable storage (CAS) has emerged as an option for archiving data on disk. CAS is a way of storing information that can be retrieved based on its content, instead of its storage location. It's typically used for long-term storage and retrieval of fixed content, like documents stored with compliance for government regulations, or medical records like x-rays and MRIs. Terri McClure, analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, discusses the pros and cons of CAS, the CAS market and whether CAS is really a good fit for SMBs.

>> Data storage capacity planning for SMBs
Assessing storage needs over time can be a daunting task, particularly for growing SMBs. In this FAQ, SMB storage consultant, Tory Skyers, discusses capacity planning management best practices for SMBs. Learn about the biggest capacity management issues facing SMBs today and how to ensure the success of a data storage capacity managment plan.

>> Direct attached storage FAQ
There are different shades, flavors and facets of direct-attached storage (DAS). There is an individual disk drive in a server, there is in an individual disk drive in a computer and there is a group of drives that can be internal to a server. There can also be a group of drives that are external to a server, but are directly attached; most commonly via parallel SCSI, Serial ATA (SATA), ATA, IDE in the past and on a go-forward basis with serial-attached SCSI (SAS).Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst with StorageI/O, answers frequently asked questions about direct attached storage (DAS).

>> Disk based backup and recovery for SMBs
Disk is increasingly being used as a backup storage target in SMBs. In this FAQ, W. Curtis Preston, the leading independent expert on the topic of backup and recovery technology, discusses the role of disk-based backup in the SMB space.

>> Email archiving FAQ
Stephen Foskett, director of data practice with Contoural, discusses the email archiving market today, the pros and cons of email archiving services, common email archiving mistakes and more.

>> File archiving FAQ
Data file archiving is used to reduce the amount of unstructured information on primary data storage. Although data storage for SMBs differs in scale and complexity than larger enterprises, their needs are often the same. Greg Schulz, senior analyst at StorageIO Group, outlines what file archiving is and how SMBs should get started with file archives.

>> File virtualization FAQ
Jeff Boles, senior analyst with the Taneja Group, discusses the benefits and drawbacks of file virtualization in the SMB space.

>> ISCSI SANs a good fit for SMBs
An iSCSI storage area network (SAN) can be a flexible and low-cost data storage solution. Therefore, more and more small- to midsized businesses (SMBs) are incorporating iSCSI SANs into their data storage environments. Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst at Storage IO, answers questions about the advantages and disadvantages of iSCSI SANs in multiprotocol systems and virtualization in this Q&A.

ISCSI storage area networks (SANs) are frequently touted as a solution for SMBs moving to networked storage. But, why not just use Fibre Channel? Terri McClure, analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, discusses the pros and cons of iSCSI SANs, the iSCSI SAN market and whether iSCSI SANs are really a good fit for SMBs.

>> Network attached storage FAQ
Though network-attached storage (NAS) offers a number of benefits, it also presents some challenges. Ashish Nadkarni, Principal Consultant with GlassHouse Technologies Inc., discusses the pros and cons of using NAS in an SMB environment and offers some best practices.

>> Thin provisioning FAQ
Ashish Nadkarni, principal consultant with Glasshouse Technologies answers frequently asked questions about thin provisioning in the SMB space.

>> Using clustered network-attached storage (NAS) to manage unstructured data
Marc Staimer, president of Dragon Slayer Consulting, discusses the pros and cons of clustered NAS and the various clustered NAS vendors. His answers are also available as an MP3.

>> Using network-attached storage as a target for disk-based data backup and recovery
For many businesses, using network-attached storage (NAS) as a target for disk-based backup and recovery is an attractive proposition. But, how do you decide if it's right for your organization? Curtis Breville, independent storage expert and webmaster of, discusses the pros and cons of using NAS as a backup target and what you need to consider before deploying NAS for data backup.


This was last published in March 2009

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