Introduction to NAS: Part 1
By: Peter Trinh
This will be the first article within a series that will focus on NAS devices. This article will introduce NAS devices, describe what they are, and discuss their features.
NAS stands for Network Attached Storage. They are essentially an external hard drive in a form of an appliance that connects to your network and currently serve an evolving number of purposes. The main benefit of a NAS device is that they allow an organization to centrally store their files without having to run any extra cables, swap the external drive between computers, or utilize a server in the computer closet / room.
The aforementioned benefit of the NAS device allows for several features which include:
• Appear and function as a second hard drive on a user’s computer, server, notebook, or netbook.
• Allow users to access this storage anywhere, even with a wireless connection.
• Facilitate automated and/or manual backups of users’ computers, servers, and files.
• Provide market flexibility: it can be utilized anywhere from a household to a medium sized business.
• Facilitate secondary and/or off-site backups therefore replacing tape backups.
• Facilitates media (such as music, pictures and video) streaming to any playback device.
• Centralized repository for all virtual machines when utilizing virtualization.
• Host intranet resources, such as Sharepoint, websites, web applications, etc.
• Centralized repository for surveillance equipment and stations.
The market for NAS devices is a rather recent one that grew when there was a demand from small and medium business who needed centralized and accessible storage. It wasn’t feasible for these businesses to invest in more server infrastructure to fill this need but they needed a solution. This is where NAS devices came into the market. Within this market, not every organization had or could afford IT personnel or resources to maintain the server infrastructure at all times; and the majority of these organizations’ existing staff did not have the expertise or resources to maintain said infrastructure. Three key characteristics have come to be part of all NAS devices that have come to market:
Expandability – they can grow as storage needs grow and shrink
Manageability – they are easy enough to maintain with a web page to control and configure the NAS device
Maintainability – they contain hot-swappable hard drives that are compatible with any off-the-shelf hard drives that can be purchased at the local electronics store.
The major players in this market are currently companies that come from either the storage or consumer network industry, plus a few companies that pioneered the NAS device market. The feature-set is still evolving quickly, but is set to become an increasingly important as time goes on.
In this article, I have introduced the NAS device and discussed the features and benefits that it can bring the customer. I hope that this introduction and the beginning in a series of articles focused on the NAS devices prove to be useful information to our clients. If you have any questions, comments, and/or feedback, please feel free to contact this author, Peter Trinh at firstname.lastname@example.org.