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NAS appliance vs. homegrown file server

We are in the process of implementing a NAS system. There is a debate over whether a simple NAS appliance (i.e., NetApp or EMC NS series) would fit the bill or if we should leverage the capabilities of W2K3r2. One of our engineers claims that if configured appropriately, WSS2003 would not be required, just W2K3r2.

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I believe that purchasing a vendor offering of a network-attached storage (NAS) product has advantages over rolling your own file server. It should be simpler to administer and have less risk of instability from some additional software being deployed on it. In addition, you get the support from the vendor as a NAS system rather than having to support the file serving application on a standard server yourself. It's a much better bet and much less risk (and probably cheaper in the long run) than doing your own.

The argument holds true whether you're using some Unix-type OS or W2K. WSS2003 is offered as an underlying system for NAS devices from several vendors. Other vendors may use a custom embedded OS or some standard variation of an OS for their NAS.

Look at the NAS system as a complete storage system with characteristics of performance, reliability, support, price and function. If you base it on some specific details, that may distract you from considering the system as a complete product.

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This was first published in June 2006

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