NAS consolidation options


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Acopia also allows policy-based migration of files. Policy scripts can be set up to migrate files from an active box to a less active one to smooth performance and free high-performance storage. To provide file-level migration and quick global name access, Acopia duplicates all file directory information at its appliance.

NeoPath Networks Inc.'s File Director is another in-band aggregation appliance. It allows transparent migration of data from one NAS box to another. For high availability, a pair of boxes can be set up in an active/passive configuration. One disadvantage of in-band appliances such as NeoPath's File Director and Acopia's ARX, is that all of the data goes through one box; it must therefore sustain data bandwidth equivalent to the current combined back-end NAS workload.

NuView Inc.'s StorageX is a software product running on Windows 2000 Server configured as an out-of-band appliance that uses Windows Active Directory to provide a GNS. As an out-of-band appliance, it doesn't hinder file read/write operations, but it also doesn't allow fully transparent migration of data from one NAS box to another. However, it automates much of the manual work required to migrate data from one share to another. Implemented on a Windows server, StorageX also supports NFS access.

EMC's Rainfinity RainStorage is an in-band and out-of-band appliance. When migrating file data from one NAS box to another it acts as an in-band appliance; otherwise it's out-of-band. RainStorage

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switches can be clustered in pairs to support high availability. Somewhat like NuView's StorageX, RainStorage doesn't migrate data transparently like in-band appliances; instead, it uses automount for Unix and DFS on Windows to ease the transition from a file's old location to its new location.

In the final analysis, the kind of NAS data you need to consolidate plays a crucial role in how you consolidate it. If your consolidation requirements aren't too extreme, then you should consolidate onto the next bigger box in your NAS product series. If there's a strong requirement for better management control over many heterogeneous NAS boxes, look to NAS aggregators. For NAS environments that need the highest performance and scalability, clustered or parallel file servers will be the only the way to go.

This was first published in December 2005

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