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Reduce network-attached storage (NAS) server sprawl

Network-attached storage server sprawl can get out of hand as resellers and customers continue to add new NAS servers to a storage network. By offering clustering and virtualization services, resellers can reduce the number of NAS servers housed by customers.

Customers becoming overwhelmed by large numbers of network-attached storage (NAS) servers? This tip offers some alternatives.

Network-attached storage server clustering and availability

One way to reduce the number of individual NAS servers is to utilize fewer, larger boxes. While major NAS vendors like NetApp have embraced this strategy in its FAS3000 family, some users are slow to adopt such a monolithic approach. Instead, NAS capacity can be pooled through clustering. As with clustered computing, clustered NAS systems appear as a single NAS server. Each clustered element can share the data load, and one box in the cluster can step in when another box fails -- helping to achieve very high storage availability. OnStor Inc. provides a clustered NAS gateway designed to interconnect Windows, Linux and Unix client systems with up to 40 petabytes of storage capacity from a variety of vendors.

Software plays an important role in clustering. Tools should be carefully evaluated to ensure adequate management, provisioning, data migration and storage utilization features. Snapshot and replication features are an added benefit, allowing you to help customers to protect valuable company data.

NAS server virtualization


Appliances aren't just for show. Many of these appliances can work to balance storage traffic between NAS boxes, helping to achieve optimum I/O performance. Appliances can also change storage volume sizes and move volumes between NAS devices on the fly without any adverse impact on storage operation. There are now several NAS virtualization appliances available from vendors like Acopia Networks Inc., NuView Inc. and BlueArc Corp.

Virtualization techniques generally involve some file management software used to direct files to the appropriate NAS device. StorageX is one virtual file manager product provided by NuView. Companies like Crosswalk Inc. provide an even more comprehensive management product. For example, the Crosswalk Storage Manager NAS bundle provides monitoring and reporting of multiple distributed NAS systems, along with data classification, storage resource management and performance analysis/diagnostic features.

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Another way to deal with a proliferation of NAS servers is through . Just as virtualization technologies can organize server storage and treat disparate hard disks as a single pool of storage, virtualization technologies can also be applied to NAS devices. Dedicated NAS server virtualization appliances are typically installed between NAS boxes and the network -- organizing multiple NAS boxes into a single, uniformly managed pool of NAS storage.

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