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"Simplicity is the solution"


Making Storage and Data Backup Management Easy

Small businesses need a simple plan to help solve storage and backup challenges for today and tomorrow. To achieve this, they must first understand their storage and backup needs. Then they need to manage their data. Finally, these businesses must help protect their electronic files using backup and archival systems.

"There is a lot of confusion among small business owners about the basics of storage and backup. Many come to us to learn about the different technologies available, what they mean, and how they can optimize them for their specific business needs," says Greg White, small business storage brand manager for Dell. "By explaining the different storage options, counseling customers on how to choose the appropriate products, and finally charting out a plan of data backup and compliance procedures, we are able to provide custom tailored solutions for their specific business needs."

The Basics

Some small companies do not have storage or backup systems. This situation can be life threatening to businesses. Other companies use a variety of devices ranging from external CD drives to external hard drives. Realistically, storage and backup systems should archive data off-site. If a tornado destroys your office PCs, it will also likely destroy the external drive sitting nearby.

The basics of more sophisticated storage systems tend to involve on-site disks that can be used to restore data lost by a single user. They might also involve some sort of removable medium, such as a tape, which can be archived in a safe, off-site location. Some systems allow companies to create remote backup and storage files via a network.

Each kind of storage and backup system has its pros and cons, but understanding that different customers have different kinds of storage and backup needs helps in developing an optimal plan to manage and help protect their data. Dell has a standards-based approach to maximize value for its customers. This standards-based approach helps to ensure that a basic storage and backup plan can be expanded to accommodate future needs and company growth.

What Is DAS?

Direct-attached storage (DAS) is disk storage that is directly attached to a single computer or a few servers.

DAS accommodate a variety of data management challenges for a growing business. It can be as simple as the addition of a second hard drive in a desktop computer, the use of an external drive or the use of a more advanced device that holds 15 hard drives, connected to a server.

Pros of DAS  
  • Simplicity. This is one of the easiest ways to add storage and backup.
  • Low initial cost. The technology is cost-effective for small business environments.
  • Scalable. Adding additional storage in a small environment is fairly straightforward.

Cons of DAS

  • Administration challenges. While efficient in a small business environment, administration must be done individually for each server or device.
  • Inconvenient. While the system stores data well, it becomes inconvenient to use in retrieving or transferring data in network environments.
  • Inefficient. While fine for small-business environments, as organizations grow, their server bears the load of processing applications.

The main alternatives to direct-attached storage are network area storage (NAS) and the storage area network (SAN).

What Is NAS?

Network area storage (NAS) is a popular storage option for businesses that need to allow multiple users to share files. This can help increase productivity and protect data as the NAS can centralize files in a location where all can see and edit them as well as make it easier to back them up.

Performance of network servers can be increased by NAS because the file serving is done by the NAS and not by a server responsible for also doing other processing, such as email, databases or other applications. But the performance of NAS devices depends heavily on the speed of and traffic on the network and on the amount of cache memory (the equivalent of RAM) on the NAS devices. These NAS systems tend to accommodate growth easily.

NAS is useful for more than just general centralized storage provided to client computers in environments with large amounts of data. More advanced NAS devices can enable simpler and lower cost systems such as email and web server systems by providing storage services.

Pros of NAS  
  • Fast file access for multiple clients
  • Ease of data sharing
  • High storage capacity
  • Redundancy
  • Ease of drive mirroring
  • Consolidation of resources
  • Low total costs
  • Efficient
  • Easy data backup

Cons of NAS

  • Hardware requirements (You need a network)
  • Basic NAS can be inconvenient to move large blocks of data, though more advanced systems deal with that efficiently

What Is SAN?

SAN stands for storage area network. It is an assortment of highly fortified storage resources, including devices, processors and software, all networked and shared by up to 256 servers. Systems with greater than four servers typically employ SAN storage.

Sharing storage usually simplifies storage administration and adds flexibility since cables and storage devices do not have to be physically moved to move storage from one server to another. SANs tend to more efficiently utilize storage capacity, since multiple servers can share the same growth reserve.

SANs also tend to enable more effective disaster recovery processes. A SAN attached storage array can replicate data belonging to many servers to a secondary storage array. This secondary array is typically remote, but can also be local.

With the increasing rise of digital media in all phases of life and its effect on storage needs, it's natural that SAN usage has begun to grow in small and medium businesses. Historically, this market was dominated by NAS systems, but it is poised to become a major market for SAN infrastructure as performance and capacity requirements rise.

Pros of SAN  
  • Excellent for moving large blocks of data
  • Exceptional reliability
  • Wide availability
  • Fault tolerance
  • Scalability

Cons of SAN

  • Higher cost
  • Lack of standardization
  • Management complexity

The Benefits of Backup

Companies that fail to create a backup and storage system for themselves are literally betting on their business. New storage and backup systems can make it easy for even the smallest company to protect itself from catastrophic data loss. In addition, larger businesses can find scalable solutions that are able to grow with their company needs efficiently and cost effectively.



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