Scale-out Network Attached Storage (NAS) systems are designed to address the shortcomings of scale-up solutions. Namely scale-up solutions require IT professionals to accurately predict the performance and storage capacity needs for the life of the NAS. Scale-out solutions by comparison allow a more pay as you grow model. But scale-out NAS solutions also struggle when trying to meet the demands of the unstructured data they are tasked with storing. It’s time for a new paradigm of storage that is multi-tiered, cross-system-ed and cloud aware?
Unstructured data, and the way users interact with that data, has fundamentally changed over the last five years. First, machines like cameras, sensors, compute clusters or even IT hardware now creates most of the unstructured data. These devices generate data and do so much faster than a human. Second, unstructured data is no longer stored “just-in-case” it is needed, instead IT stores it because their is the potential for monetization of the data or business units keep it for analysis at a later time helping organizations make better decisions. Third, users interact with this data differently now. They want near instant access to it, no matter where they happen to be or what type of device they use.
Current scale-out NAS systems fall short when trying to store this new unstructured data. In the past a NAS system had two jobs; store the data until it was needed and then deliver it to a requesting user when it was. Scale-out NAS 1.0 systems were able to scale to meet most organization’s capacity and performance expectations. But a modern NAS system has to provide variable classes of performance. It has to manage storage frugally, provide multiple forms of access, integrate cloud access, be searchable and change the way data protection occurs.
Introducing Scale-Out NAS 2.0
The next generation of scale-out NAS is a tiered system that can aggregate multiple types of storage hardware and locations into a single pool of storage, accessible from a variety of systems and devices. While it seems that every IT vendor claims to have software defined storage, these solutions are software defined in their purest form. They are essentially file-systems that have broken the walls of a single piece of storage hardware, a single scale-out storage cluster, or even single physical location.
These solutions go beyond global file systems, which typically aggregate a collection of NAS devices. Scale-out NAS 2.0 can incorporate a wide variety of flash, hard disk arrays, object storage systems, cloud storage and even tape storage. It also has the ability to automatically move data between these different types of storage hardware based on policy and access.
Scale-out NAS 2.0 is unique in that it does not require a new physical storage system. It can leverage and aggregate existing storage resources which lowers operational costs. It also provides policy driven movement of data to make sure data is on the most performance-correct and cost-correct storage type available. It also provides data preservation to make sure that data is retained and readable, if need be, for decades to come.
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