Ask the Expert

Many applications and NAS

Hi Randy,

We are looking for a way to consolidate storage in a distributed NT-environment. (74 servers on 23 locations but only 1TB of used disk space.) Because of the many locations, SAN is not an option. It's probably going to be a NAS box.

There are, however, two concerning facts:

1. The diversity and mix of applications. (File-oriented apps, still old DOS apps and many different DBs like Dbase, Foxpro, Interbase, SQLserver and some Oracle.)

2. Network capacity. We are hiring capacity from a 3rd party in an ELL-construction.

My questions are:

Is it wise to go NAS with this many different applications and if not what is?

Is there a way to calculate the extra network load in advance before implementing the NAS appliance?

Kind regards.


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It sounds like you want to sweep up many unplanned environments to consolidate storage. I assume you want to consolidate for cost reasons but you may also want to do it for asset protection (the data being used). It's very difficult to just add something to established environments without making a more comprehensive plan that requires some changes. The DOS applications probably would be difficult to get to work with the other applications in a shared environment. (It can be done but would be painful and subject to changes with new releases.)

The database usage on NAS in an OLTP environment may be OK or may not be depending on your requirements (including database size, transaction rates necessary, and the amount of sharing) and the network infrastructure. This is probably the area of greatest concern. You really need to analyze your business requirements here and determine if they will be satisfied with a NAS device. Measuring network capacity is somewhat difficult. Usually companies either have staff or will contract with a firm to do that. They need to use monitors to measure traffic and plan a topology that will work for you.

I recommend bringing in someone with experience to help you with this. There isn't really an easy answer. If you try to shortcut the process, you're gambling with your storage.

Randy Kerns
Evaluator Group, Inc.

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This was first published in August 2002

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