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4/15/2010
02:08 PM
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Don't Let RAID Kill You Dead

RAID isn't dead -- not by a long shot. In fact, it is literally everywhere these days. That creates both risks and opportunities for small and midsized businesses.

RAID isn't dead -- not by a long shot. In fact, it is literally everywhere these days. That creates both risks and opportunities for small and midsized businesses.

RAID technology has been around for decades now. During that time, one of the biggest changes was the way RAID has moved from being a high-end enterprise tool to something that even the cheapest consumer NAS device treats as a must-have feature.

In other words, RAID has turned into a commodity item. That fact has encouraged vendors to dress up their solutions with fancy new names and a slew of additional features.

But when you scratch the surface, you'll find the same old RAID technology.

That's a good thing for SMBs. Whether you use RAID for basic disk mirroring, improved performance, or some combination of the two, you'll find a combination of low prices, reliability, and functionality that just wasn't available a decade years ago.

So, what's the catch? (There's always a catch!)

Like I said, vendors are eager to differentiate themselves in what has become a commodity RAID market. That means marrying standard RAID features with proprietary methods of monitoring, managing, and repairing disks. On one level, that's great -- this is a hotly competitive market, and there is plenty of room for innovative new solutions to these problems.

On the other hand, proprietary solutions create a problem with vendor lock-in. And when your business data is the stuff getting locked up, there's the potential for serious trouble.

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

It helps to remember that RAID by itself doesn't eliminate the need for good data security practices and a sound backup policy. I can't count the number of times I've heard about users treating a RAID 1 set as their backup plan -- until something happened that fried the entire array.

So much for treating mirroring as a foolproof backup strategy, right?

Just be sure to apply the same caution when you're shopping for a RAID solution -- or something like it -- for your small business. Make sure you understand both the costs and benefits of these newer proprietary features, and think carefully about the vendors backing them.

That way, you'll make sure that RAID doesn't kill you dead.

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