Get control of NAS systems


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4. Private cloud or grid storage systems

Private cloud or grid storage systems are somewhat similar to clustered NAS systems, but grid storage provides peer-to-peer clustering that enables it to provide single-image files over geographically dispersed, long-distance and cross-domain operations.

Geographic location "awareness" adds another dimension to NAS sprawl management by centralizing control, management and access for distributed environments. Based on access performance and/or data protection policies, files are replicated and moved to the geographic location that best meets the policy. Whether you have only a few remote or branch offices or hundreds, grid or private cloud storage can make a lot of sense.

There are currently two commercially available private cloud storage systems: Bycast Inc.'s StorageGRID and EMC Atmos. The Bycast StorageGRID runs on x86 nodes that sit in front of standard DAS or SAN storage, so it can use already installed block storage. EMC Atmos also runs on x86 nodes but can only use its own JBOD storage. Bycast's product is a bit more mature with hundreds of installations and OEM deals with HP and IBM.


  • Same pros as clustered NAS
  • Same or lower cost than clustered NAS
  • Management of geographically dispersed locations
  • Distributed geographically aware access

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  • with centralized management, protection and replication of all files
  • Geographically aware, policy-based file replication and movement
  • DAS and SAN investment protection or use of very low-cost storage


  • Limited number of vendors with mature technology
  • No automated storage tiering at this time
  • Startup costs can be more than other technologies (but long-term costs will likely be less)



Click here to view a PDF of the antidotes to NAS sprawl.


Summarizing NAS sprawl solutions

File storage growth is bordering on the out of control, with many companies struggling to get a handle on their network-attached storage systems. This NAS sprawl creates serious management problems that can tax overworked IT staffs and jeopardize users' access to corporate data. But the four different technologies described above are available today and can resolve many of the issues and challenges created by NAS sprawl.

Take a pragmatic approach, and implement the least amount of new technology that best meets current and forecasted requirements. That will help minimize risk, lessen the strain on CapEx and OpEx budgets, and can make a world of difference with NAS management.

BIO: Marc Staimer is president of Dragon Slayer Consulting.

This was first published in February 2010

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