Storage is not the most exciting topic, and as such, can easily be ignored for other more interesting business decisions. However, failing to give enough attention to the storage system can have detrimental effects on every part of a business, especially if data should be lost or the system became too slow to keep up with applications. As such, let’s take a look at what the basic options are when it comes to enterprise storage and the pros and cons of those options.
Types of Storage
There are three basic types of storage: direct attached storage, storage area network and network attached storage. The three can be built on top of each other and work together with DAS as the basic building block underneath the other two.
As the basic building block of any enterprise storage system, DAS provides block-level storage, and its performance determines the performance of the other systems built on top of it. DAS will typically have high performance but is limited in that it can only be used by the device it is directly attached to until it is connected through either a SAN or NAS network.
SAN, unlike DAS, will allow multiple devices to connect to the same storage device. However, it doesn’t permit simultaneous access to the same volume within the storage device. Instead, one device must take over the volume from the other device, such as when a backup server must take over. One other advantage of SAN is that because it uses block-level storage, it mimics a DAS storage subsystem making it easier for systems to be compatible.
NAS is the highest level of a data storage system and offers file-level storage. The benefit of using NAS is that a single volume can be used by multiple applications at once. The downside to NAS is that not all applications will run on NAS because many are only designed to work with SAN.
There are three main types of storage media that businesses can use. Each offers several advantages and disadvantages, so companies will generally use a combination of two or three to get the best performance.
High End Hard Disks:
HDDs have been around for a while and are much cheaper to to use than SSDs. HDDs also have a good storage capacity. However, they are much slower than SSDs as they require some time to reach typical operating speed and large data files can become fragmented in HDDS.
Solid State Drives:
SSDs are fairly expensive to use, but they offer much higher speeds that will boot faster, start applications faster and have higher performance overall. SSDs are also not prone to fragmentation, make virtually no noise and can be made much smaller than HDDs.
Flash is the newest storage medium, so what is flash storage exactly? Essentially Flash creates a storage option that offers better performance than disk but is also cheaper. Some additional benefits include less rackspace and less power consumption costs.
Tiering is not a storage medium, but refers to businesses that use multiple mediums depending on which data or application would benefit from a certain medium as far as getting the best performance and price.
As you can see, a data storage system is more of a network of tools rather than a single device that you purchase. Those who can select and assign those tools strategically will get the best performance for their money.