Of the many a varied challenges that face Remex’s clients, one challenge is common to all. The challenge of managing their data storage requirements. There is no all-encompassing solution to this challenge, because the quantity of information that is being stored continues to increase at an alarming rate.
- At around the year 2000, we estimated that the business data storage requirement of our clients was, on average, approximately 250MB per person using the computer network.
- At around 2005, we estimated that the average data storage requirement was approximately 1000MB (1GB) per person using the computer network, an increase of 400% over five years.
- In 2010, we estimate that the average data storage requirement of our clients is approximately 5,000MB (5GB) of on-line data per person using the computer network, plus 5,000MB (5GB) of archived data (immediately retrievable but no longer used in the production environment), an increase of 1000% over five years.
We acknowledge that the average of our clients is only that, an average of our clients. However, we do believe that the rate of increase in data storage requirements that we experience is indicative of the rate of increase experienced elsewhere.
Types of Data Storage Systems
Direct Attached Storage (“DAS”) is mass storage that is directly connected to a computer. Most computers have DAS (you would see it as your “C Drive”).
Network Attached Storage (“NAS”) is mass storage directly connected to a computer that is connected to a network and that serves the mass storage, as file-based storage, to other computers on the network. A file server is a NAS device, however, a typical file server will also serve many other facilities to the network. Purpose-built NAS devices are available with much thinner operating systems, making them less expensive and arguably more reliable than fully-featured operating systems (there’s less things to configure and less things that can go wrong). NAS uses file-based protocols to make available the mass storage to the network.
Storage Area Networks (“SAN”) are specialist networks that makes mass storage available, at a block-level, to servers that, in turn, make the mass storage available to the computer network. To the computer network, the SAN is invisible and may as well not exist. The computer network client only sees the servers that it is communicating with. That a SAN serves mass storage at a block-level is core to the value that it can offer. A SAN maximises the utilisation of mass storage capacity by:
- enabling the sharing of storage between as many servers as the environment requires
- enabling the storage volume allocated to a given server to be increased or decreased
- enabling the addition of storage quickly and easily without affecting computer network’s operation
Click on a diagram for a diagrammatical representation and easy to understand description of DAS, NAS and SAN.