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Don't Let NAS Management Fly Under Your Radar

Many small and midsized businesses think network-attached storage (NAS) is a silver bullet that will slay their storage planning problems. Sometimes that's true, but often it isn't.

Many small and midsized businesses think network-attached storage (NAS) is a silver bullet that will slay their storage planning problems. Sometimes that's true, but often it isn't.Consider this case -- a small legal discovery firm that quickly learned the limitations of its new NAS solution:

When LDiscovery, LLC, a legal discovery service firm, migrated from direct-attached storage (DAS) to network-attached storage (NAS), they thought they could easily handle the 10 TB load that each new client would bring. However, their two 250 TB NAS devices started to hit their threshold, and the small- to medium-sized business (SMB) realized it had overlooked a key ingredient to success -- NAS management.

"In the DAS world, we had a very straightforward methodology for storage management: If you ran out, you bought more. With the cost of NAS, there is definitely a point of diminishing returns so that strategy doesn't work. We couldn't just continue to add storage when we exceeded our storage pools," said Brian Wolfinger, vice president of electronic discovery and digital forensics at LDiscovery.

This firm, like so many others, put its NAS hardware to work without a management or upgrade strategy. And now, it's scrambling to catch up.

How do you avoid the same mistake? Start with this list of requirements that you should at least consider before adopting a NAS solution.

NAS management tools. These are literally available for companies of every size and type, including SMBs. Look for key features like the ability to view multiple NAS devices from a single console, deduplication, snapshots, and usage analysis tools.

Disaster recovery. This includes replication, mirroring, and failover support, all of which can turn a NAS device into a disaster recovery solution that will pay for itself many times over if it is ever needed.

Storage virtualization. This is a feature that allows a company to view all of its NAS devices as a single pool of storage resources. As an administrator, you don't worry about exactly where in the pool a particular virtual drive sits; the software takes care of that, along with all of the related management, monitoring, and reporting capabilities.

Not every SMB needs to worry about NAS management, at least in the short run. If your data fits quite comfortably on a single device and doesn't grow all that fast, you're better off investing your IT dollars elsewhere.

Don't Miss: NEW! Storage How-To Center

But if data growth is a major concern for your company, it pays to stay ahead of the curve. Look at NAS management as an integral part of your storage strategy, not just as a nice-to-have feature that might be useful someday.

Way too often, "someday" will come a lot sooner than you expect.

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