To help you understand where NAS is today, this article offers you a detailed look at the features of current NAS offerings and makes some suggestions on how they may fit into various storage environments.
NAS vendors all agree that almost any NAS appliance on the market today will deliver the following three features: ease of use and deployment, extraordinary value and heterogeneous connectivity using common protocols (TCP/IP, NFS v 2.0, NFS v 3.0 and CIFS). Yet while vendors agree on the broad features NAS appliances offer, they disagree on how to best deliver them.
NAS quickly won the hearts of storage administrators because of its ability to offer storage to any level of the organization, provide it with minimal--or no--additional client configuration and do it quickly. This value premise was too alluring to resist. NAS appliances were purchased and deployed with minimal thought because the upfront cost was low, support time was minimal and it kept users happy. A business no-brainer if there ever was one.
It turns out that this wasn't quite as good a deal as everyone initially thought it was. Mission-critical information quietly crept on to these appliances.
With these new management problems, another reality set in: complexity. The growing complexity of NAS in large environments drained much of the initial excitement away from these filers. No longer did every NAS solution provide the quick storage fix some organizations had gotten used to. Even though companies such as Dell and Network Appliance provide central management consoles or allow their appliances to plug into existing consoles, the explosion of data and devices has overwhelmed some companies lacking a well-defined strategic storage plan.
This was first published in February 2003