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Dissing DAS

SAN/NAS has been nibbling away at traditional direct-attached storage (DAS) for years. But no matter how big the nibbles, there were few questioning the long-term viability of DAS for storage-intensive applications like supporting a database server. After all, anything but DAS was bound to be too slow. What's more database engines didn't even communicate with logical blocks, just raw records.

Now, though, according to Steve Duplessie of the Enterprise Storage Group, Milford, Mass., some hardy souls are ignoring the advice of traditional database server vendors. His views -- outlined in the January 2001 Enterprise Storage Group Business Brief -- are that "many user environments now require the flexibility and availability associated with an external NAS box." According to ESG, top NAS vendor Network Appliance is now shipping up to 20% of its filers in support of database engines.

What's the benefit? Duplessie argues that going the NAS route simply provides more flexibility -- critical in today's business environment. So, if you suddenly find that your database needs to handle a spike in capacity -- such as, greater than five times its regular capacity -- DAS just isn't going to deliver. Duplessie says the only additional effort required for running a database engine from a NetApp box is to build a separate, high-speed subnet for the filer-database connection.

ESG goes so far as to term the choice a "no-brainer" and concludes that the challenge is to "try to find the reason not to move the data to the network."

About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer in Franklin, Mass.

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