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Storage systems explained


With the rapid development of internet technologies has thus resulted in a growth of appropriate storage systems owing to the amount of information more readily accessible and the types of information such as corporate information and video technology.

All this information needs to be appropriately stored, however as with most technology when importance grows, problems have been encountered such as different storage techniques meaning that if an organisation decides to go with the one option, that different architectures mean that they cannot interoperate with each other. However, as technology progresses, experts foresee that eventually the next development in storage will consist of a single management architecture allowing all types of storage to integrate with each other.

At this moment in time there are only three storage options available and obviously by choosing between them ensures the risk of losing interoperability.

Sas - Server attached storage
This is the first and oldest option available whereby storage systems are directly attached to a server. Most systems currently use this, but it is envisaged that this system will be replaced within the next two years.

This type of storage works well for a single application and when managed by one project team, such as data warehousing. This system however, creates separate islands of storage that makes it less appropriate for corporate networks.

San - Storage area network
A second option is to create a separate fibre optic network, that provide network managers with limitless storage capacity as data can run quickly over the fibre optics without additional traffic on existing local area networks (LANs). This option has become the favourite at present with business-critical applications.

Nas - Network attached storage
This involves plugging a box with extra storage capacity into an existing LAN, it is easy to implement but works better using an ethernet network to ensure that the architecture works efficiently. This system works alright as a short-term measure for small applications, however it is not suitable for business-critical solutions.

Up until recently most organisations have had to opt for either the San or Nas systems and have had to choose just one of them, however in future it is envisaged that a solution lies where there will be a convergence of these two systems.

Difficulties between the systems has also been due to the fact that there appears to be an absence of standards leading to these products based on different architectures thus they cannot interoperate with each other.

The Storage Network Industry Associates (SNIA) consortium have worked on the agreement of its 120 industry members to set standards for fibre channel networks. They have also joined the open starge network initiative to develop Direct Access File System (DAFs) a standard protocol allowing files to be shared between different storage networks.


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