So let’s say you’ve decided to take your business seriously and spend the money needed for a quality server. You may be using a file server to share files and printers or you may use it to run Microsoft Exchange for shared calendars or for email, host a database for your company or a CRM – Customer Relationship Management application. Perhaps you have two or three servers running a combination of these and each has its own backup system and each should.

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What is likely to happen over time?

Storage inefficiency – You may find that one server, perhaps your file server, is constantly running out of storage space, while another server always seems to have too much storage space to spare, but no easy way to share it. This is a very inefficient scenario and the biggest reason why DAS solution is ultimately inefficient for growing small businesses.

Management headaches – Most DAS solutions have their own proprietary management software and interfaces and are not easy to manage remotely. You may find yourself with multiple different DAS solutions, each with its own management quirks and annoyances.

Consolidate Your Data

As with PCs, the answer to server overload is to consolidate your storage, unchain it from the server, and place it on the network where it can be shared among multiple servers and PCs. Why?

It’s efficient – You get a shared pool of networked storage that you can slice, dice, and allocate to users, applications, and servers at will. No more overloaded servers sitting next to servers with storage to spare.

It’s easy to upgrade -You no longer have to shut down your server and its applications to upgrade your storage. You can add storage to the network and make it instantly available without affecting your applications.

When it’s time to upgrade your servers, it’s no longer necessary to throw out the storage with the server or spend the time to migrate data to another server. You simply connect the new server to the network and configure it for access to your network storage. Now this isn’t always the case depending on what your server is hosting but more often than not this is a good solution to many small and medium sized businesses.

It’s cost effective – Storage makes up a significant portion of your server’s price and internal space. Separate storage on the network and you can spend fewer dollars on servers or buy more server performance and reliability for your dollar. You can also pack more servers into a smaller space, if that’s what you need to do, taking advantage of compact rack mount servers or even blade servers but don’t forget to keep your server closet or room COOL with Air Conditioning.

You have two choices for network storage: a SAN and a NAS.

SAN

Storage Area Networks (SANs) separate storage from your servers and put it on its own specialized high-performance storage network where it can be pooled and allocated to servers and applications. When a server runs out of storage, you simply allocate more storage from the SAN, rather than taking down the server to add physical storage.

NAS

Nothing beats the simplicity of NAS for fulfilling the needs of a typical small business. A NAS device sits directly on the network and, like a server, serves up files, not storage blocks. There are many advantages to NAS as a small business storage solution.

Independence – NAS devices can sit anywhere on the network, completely independent of servers, serving up files to any network connected PC’s or servers. If a server or PC goes down, the NAS is still functional. If power goes down, there’s no need for complex reconfiguration. With its simplicity, a NAS can be up and running again in minutes.

Ease of Use – NAS devices typically come as preconfigured turnkey solutions. There’s no need to install a host adapter or complex server operating system. You simply plug the NAS into the network and do some very light configuration, usually with a Web browser, and your NAS is up and running and accessible to your PCs.

Easy Upgrades – T o get more storage with NAS you simply plug in another NAS device and you’re up and running with additional file storage in minutes.

Flexibility – Today some NAS solutions also come with some built-in iSCSI capability, which can provide fast block-based storage to performance-hungry server applications that need it, while still allowing you to share and print files. In some cases you don’t even need a switch or special host adapter. You simply plug your server directly into the iSCSI port on the NAS. So you get the best of both worlds in a single easy to use and configure device.