NAS consolidation options


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NAS gateways
Gateways are good for organizations that have SAN infrastructures and want to consolidate their NAS data onto SAN storage. All of the major NAS vendors provide tools for data migration from their NAS storage to their gateway products. Furthermore, support is available for all NAS protocols and most OS environments. Although gateway performance and capacity is very good, it falls short compared to some of the available non-traditional alternatives. Gateways provide more flexibility and scalability compared to integrated NAS boxes. For example, if you just want to upgrade back-end storage performance, you can do that separately from the NAS front end with NAS gateways.

EMC NAS gateways: EMC recently added the NSX blade server to its NS700G/NS500G gateway product lines. The NSX is configured using NAS blades in a chassis, with each blade supporting one or more file systems. However, files can't be shared across blades. The NSX product can be configured with a maximum of eight blades supporting 16TB of storage each for up to 112TB of storage (at least one blade with 16TB should be configured as a passive standby for failover). NSX has virtual X-blades useful for physical consolidation without having to change logical management jurisdictions. A virtual X-blade provides a logically partitioned file server. If your users manage their own file server, they can retain their "perceived" management by using a virtual X-blade; however, you can still

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consolidate their storage along with other users under one NSX blade server.

Traditional approaches to NAS consolidation
EMC's NAS products run the DART operating environment, which provides high-end capabilities such as sophisticated file replication and mirroring, and automatic volume management that allows administrators to increase file-system space without client intervention. EMC NAS gateways support only EMC back-end storage.

Windows Storage Server (WSS) gateways: Many NAS storage companies, from Dell Inc. to Xiotech Corp., offer NAS gateway products based on WSS software. Most WSS products are configured as gateways, and all provide similar base functionality. Windows client support is very tight to allow for easier deployment. Using CIFS or NFS and Windows Distributed File System (DFS), WSS provides a clustered file system that's accessible across all active nodes. You can configure from two to eight nodes for high availability and performance scalability. WSS configures nodes as active for servicing data or as passive for cluster failover.

Hewlett-Packard's (HP) ProLiant Storage Server NAS gateway is based on WSS and attaches to HP and third-party SAN storage. SAN storage capabilities such as replication and mirroring can be accessed directly. For HP EVA storage, replication can be invoked from the NAS graphical management interface directly. Other third-party SAN storage replication requires other third-party software.

This was first published in December 2005

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