Information storage is a critical process in most businesses, companies and organizations out there today. Information is what keeps our modern world running smoothly each and every day. Having reliable and efficient ways of transferring and storing information is very important for businesses and organizations that wish to remain relevant and up to date.
Data storage in specific has been observed to be an issue that many businesses struggle with. Keeping information safe and accessible at all times is not as easy as most people think.
Businesses and organization are well aware that they need proper computer storage solutions, however, it is not always apparent which solution is best suited for their needs and requirements. It is very easy for small and medium businesses to store their information on a single computer.
However, larger businesses and organizations that work in different locations are normally faced with a bigger challenge when it comes to storing information. Now, this is where computer storage networking solutions come into the picture.
Computer storage networking can be described as the process of linking together two or more storage devices and making them accessible to a wide range of IT networks. Storage networks act as central data banks or repositories for businesses and organizations. These networks can be accessed by many users and provide high speed data connections to facilitate optimal performance.
Computer storage networks are commonly used by global enterprises, franchises, companies and organizations. They are also used by institutions and governments that have significant data storage demands.
Storage networks are made up of storage servers that basically store and manage digital files. These storage servers act as back-up servers for crucial information belonging to businesses and companies. Storage servers are used to share both small and large amounts of information over a computer or IT network.
There are a variety of computer storage networking solutions to choose from. The most common are Direct Attached Storage (DAS), Network Attached Storage (NAS) and Storage Area Networks (SAN).
Choosing which storage networking solution is best suited for your business or organization should be a decision that is solely based on your needs and requirements. It is also important to consider the long term goals for your business or organization. Some of the criteria that you can consider to help you make an informed decision include:
– Availability and Reliability
– Data protection
– IT staff and Resources
– Budget concerns
DAS (Direct Attached Storage)
DAS or Direct Attached Storage is a digital storage device that is attached to a PC or server directly with no intermediary connections. Direct Attached Storage is the most basic level of storage and is not part of any storage network. Conventional internal and external computer hard drives are considered DAS devices.
For servers, the internal or external disk drives that have been plugged are similarly considered DAS devices. DAS devices are normally protected by different RAID technologies to ensure data integrity, accuracy and safety.
DAS devices are normally connected on a variety of interfaces such as used Advanced Technology Attachment (ATA), Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) and e-SATA. A compatibility issue may arise when you try to connect a DAS device to a computer or a server which does not have the corresponding interface card present.
Direct Attached Storage has various advantages over other computer storage solutions. Due to the lack of access to a computer network, DAS offers high speed data transfer rates. DAS also offers storage expansion capabilities, fault tolerance and high data security.
DAS is cheap, simple and easy to use. This is mainly because there is no inclusion of networking hardware and devices such as routers, cables, switches and transmitters. The major disadvantages of Direct Attached Storage is that it can only be accessed by one user at a time.
NAS (Network Attached Storage)
Network Attached Storage is an upgrade of DAS where different storage devices have access to a network. It is worthy to note that the connected storage devices do not have to be in the form of workstations with monitors, keyboards and mice. All is required is a standard Ethernet connection that forms a conventional Local Area Network between connected storage devices. NAS devices themselves act as Local Area Network nodes with file storage functions.
On the Local Area Network, each NAS device or node is assigned a unique IP address that identifies it on the network. The IP standard is therefore used to facilitate transfer of information between connected devices on the network. An NAS device can have a single drive or multiple drives. Multiple drives are used to increase capacity and security.
If there are multiple computers in the Local Area Network, NAS servers can be used to provide more services other than data storage. NAS servers can be used for back-up purposes, hosting a shared printer, acting as a media streamer as well as providing support for other computer peripheral devices such as IP cameras.
NAS offers many benefits such as efficient sharing of files, good read and write performance, high security via data encryption, cloud service for storage and backup, good data redundancy and protection and data back-up from Windows, Mac, and even Linux machines. In most homes and businesses, NAS devices and servers are used as storage locations for multimedia files.
If you have large amounts of images and videos to store for a long time, NAS is a good storage option. For a small business, NAS devices can act as print, database or email servers.
SAN (Storage Area Network)
SAN or Storage Area Network is one of the most popular computer storage networking solutions and is known for its high speed data transfer rates and wide scope. In this type of storage network, devices in separate Local Area Networks can access multiple data servers. In this network, information is mostly transferred between servers and storage devices. SAN is commonly is commonly used in situations where fast input and output of data is required.
When compared to DAS and NAS, SAN is different in that it facilitates movement of large chunks of information over larger areas. This is possible because it makes use of block level storage technology. This means that it provides access to information by enabling hosts to send block based request instead of single unit request.
Bandwidth plays a big role in enabling a Storage Area Network to function properly. Most SAN%u2019s are made up of various bandwidth intensive devices and applications meaning information has to be transmitted in large quantities and at high speeds.
SAN can be implemented in two main ways depending on the data storage and transmission needs and requirements of your business or organization:
– Fiber Optic Channels
Storage devices are connected to servers using a high speed network of fiber optic channels. Fiber optic channels offer continuous access to data when required and can offer speeds of more 5 Gigabytes per second.
– Internet Small Computer System Interface (ISCSI) Protocol
This is a less sophisticated form of a Storage Area Network that involves creating a low-cost network infrastructure that storage devices and servers can use to communicate. ISCSI is relatively slower than fiber optic channels and is not suitable for businesses and organization with large data storage and transfer demands.
The advantages of SAN over other computer storage networking solutions are its extensive scope of operations, high speed data transfer rate, unlimited storage capacity and users. SAN servers can be set to have a fallback in case of failure meaning network operations continue. Many modern businesses that are looking to expand their operations to new regions are implementing Storage Area Networks as their preferred computer storage networking solution.
The major disadvantages of SAN are its expensive hardware, complexity of installation and maintenance as well as need for technical expertise to operate. SAN servers, storage devices, network infrastructures and other devices are also not easy to procure due to availability and cost.
Many startups and new businesses cannot afford to implement this type of network storage. This means that it is best suited for large businesses and companies that have enough man power and capital to sustain it.
Choosing the right computer storage network system should be relatively easy after considering the above information. As mentioned above, you must first consider what your business really needs in terms of data storage. You must look at the current data storage needs as well as the future storage needs of your business or organization. Of course, if you have the right IT professionals by your side, it will not be that hard to settle on the best storage networking solution.
It is good to note that what works for one business may not work for another business even if both businesses are in the same niche industry. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of using the storage networking solutions that their competitors are using not knowing that there are better options for their enterprises out there today.
As days and months go by, new storage networking technologies will emerge. It is prudent that you keep yourself updated with major advancements and innovations been made in the information storage industry.
Remember, network storage is about running your business effectively and securing its future growth and success. Information is key to the success of any business or organization. Information should be stored in a safe, secure and easily accessible way. This is to ensure that those who need the information (clients and staff) get it when they need it.
Also, those who should not have access to your business’s information should at no point be allowed to access it. Data accuracy, integrity and security should always be you main concern when choosing a storage networking solution for your enterprise.
Computer storage networking solutions have enabled many businesses and organization to expand and grow. If you have been looking for an efficient and reliable way of managing and storing your information, it is high time you give some thought to storage networking. The above mentioned solutions are just a few of the many that exists out there today.
You should take your time to do some research and due diligence on various solutions on offer in the market before settling on a given product. Professional IT consultants and computer storage experts can shed more light on various storage solutions that your business or organization can implement. Once you have done this, you can then consider your budget and any other personal criteria that you may have.