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File-based growth increases popularity of unified storage systems

In part two of his Storage Decisions 2012 video TechTalk, Evaluator Group senior strategist Randy Kerns explains why the complexity of managing block and file systems separately is driving the adoption of unified storage systems. Watch the video and read the transcript below to find out more.

SearchStorage: What are the pros and cons of adopting unified storage systems?

Kerns: Typically, we see [people using it] in environments that are in the smaller enterprise or midsized business [category], and they want to add in a file-based storage [array] where they may not have had it before. They were using just typical servers, running a file system on the server. They want network-attached storage [NAS], but still have a demand for block storage and want to have it in a single footprint, if you will, so they can consolidate two different systems or expand -- not add another complete system. Getting a unified system may be perfect for them; they'll now have one box that can do everything to fit their needs. That's the usual way we see people acquire unified storage.

SearchStorage: Is there a way to know when a unified storage system isn't necessary?

More on unified storage systems

View part one of Randy Kerns' video TechTalk on unified data storage architecture.

Kerns: You can always go with two different systems. What we find is that as you move higher in the enterprise, particularly in the enterprise data center, you'll find that NAS with file-based storage is typically administered separately, and maybe has different people managing it than those managing block-based storage. [In part, that’s because] NAS is growing much faster than block-based storage. They'll buy a NAS system specifically to meet that demand with a new project. Typically, we see higher in the enterprise that they have two separate systems -- but it's whatever works for your particular customer. When you move down market, though, you see the footprint and administration becoming more of a concern, and unified storage gets into the mix earlier on.

SearchStorage: Unified storage isn't a new idea, so why have we been hearing so much about it recently?

Kerns: There's been a lot of excellent vendor promotion and they've done a good job of conditioning the market and getting people to think about it. The growth in file-based storage has also brought the issue up significantly. People are realizing, 'I need to address this. How am I going to do it?' The NAS system is the best way to do it. Then you ask, 'How can I get a NAS system to meet this combination of block and file?' Most storage systems today have enough capacity and performance to manage both, so getting a consolidated system, in many instances, is warranted. If people look at a [unified storage system] -- the availability, awareness and growth in file-based storage is what's driving [the technology].

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