I have always been told that NAS is strictly an optimized environment for file serving. As such I can see why database activity (block transfers) are not suited to the network bandwidths available. However, I don't quite understand the argument that an Exchange environment would not benefit from a NAS deployment as well since email files are just that, files.
Having said that, could you describe the environments where NAS is an appropriate solution to recommend and those where NAS would not work nearly as well as a SAN (i.e. Fibre Channel) environment?
The thing to think about with NAS is the quality of the network that it is connected to. NAS can use all kinds of networks with varying degrees of quality. It does not require low error rates in the network, but MAN, IT SURE HELPS A LOT IF THE NETWORK IS FANTASTIC!
So, if you assume fiber optic cabling with Gigabit Ethernet for NAS - the equivalent of what people install for FC SANs, yes, NAS can be used for all types of data, including databases. Microsoft seems to be a little bit behind the times here as they don't support NAS with some of their products. Maybe they are trying to weed out the customers who would try to implement Exchange with NAS over a barbed-wire fence in Wyoming.
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This was first published in October 2001