Why is file-level awareness important for NAS?

NAS [network attached storage] is 'file-level aware' and that's always been valuable. Since unstructured file-based data is consuming more and more capacity, file-based storage, such as NAS,

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has become a priority in the storage enterprise.

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It's also a matter of intelligence. NAS systems have their own file systems. As such, the NAS storage systems can actually act on file data without the need for external applications. With SANs [storage area network] (block-level storage) you always need an external application to access the storage and act on data. This doesn't involve tasks like protecting, copying or transferring data, any SAN or NAS system can do that, but you need some kind of user application to access the data in a block-storage system. It's a very powerful difference between SAN and NAS.

You can actually use the NAS system itself to perform functions on the file data, such as creating logical snapshots. NAS provides a greater understanding of metadata (the data about data), and that has become crucial for compliance and retention tasks. We're also seeing indexing and search features in the NAS environment, and these will be more important as the volume of unstructured data continues to grow. So, being able to search a large repository of file-based data is a valuable asset in NAS.

Check out the entire NAS FAQ guide.

This was first published in July 2007

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