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Network Attached Storage (NAS)

Network attached storage (NAS) is a type of legacy storage or virtual storage, hosted by third-party providers as a service. Legacy NAS works similarly to on-site servers but can be housed within data centers. Unlike enterprise or private cloud, NAS is software, not hardware, so it does not offer all-flash storage or come with hard disk drive (HDDs). Instead, cloud NAS works “as a service” within cloud environments. NAS is also referred to as a remote access server (RAS) or a media gateway.

Some software development operations (DevOps), IT managers and experts suggest NAS offers the benefits of both local HDDs and cloud storage because it connects to local area networks (LANs) and wirelessly to other devices for ease of access from anywhere. But what are the limitations of NAS, and what type of storage software or hardware—or combination—would better serve your enterprise-level needs?

The nuts and bolts

A typical NAS package will include memory and space for and HDD, as well as a processor that connects to your LAN. So, while it does have the capacity to connect to devices, CPUs, and smartphones remotely, it isn't the whole enchilada. You’ll still have to find, purchase and integrate HDDs with this remote storage system—and in most cases, you won’t own the storage space yourself, whether it’s legacy or cloud NAS. In cases where you do own your own network-attached remote storage, you're responsible for repairs, manual computations and troubleshooting, and any other issues that may arise. The idea of owning your own storage is certainly appealing, but more modern, versatile and agile options than either legacy or cloud NAS are available for your virtualized storage needs.

Legacy NAS

Legacy NAS is a file-level system comprised of CPUs, physical servers and other appliances and devices on a LAN that use more than one type of processor. Typically, legacy network-attached storage will contain a single HDD when in use for small businesses and other seedling ventures. Otherwise, the system can be set up to maintain several HDDs, which each compute using a redundant array of independent disks (RAID). RAID HDDs are not ideal for enterprise or really any business use: they do not back up data if there is a power outage. Most IT pros know: RAID is an inexpensive way to compress many drives into a single volume. But the disadvantages of RAID (beyond losing everything you've stored) include inability to back up data, tedious configuration and zero protection against drive failures.

Cloud NAS

Network-attached storage on cloud operates quite differently, allowing admins and developers to access the files and apps they need by way of the Internet. This is what we might refer to as "storage as a service," and in these instances, a third-party storage provider will be the owner of your storage space. Cloud NAS is better than its legacy counterpart, in that it at least offers backup for data, software and other information. But really, even at the cloud level, network-attached-type storage is best suited for consumers who snap lots of family photos, or maybe for use by a small sole proprietorship. When you get to the enterprise storage level, you simply need something that offers more bandwidth, higher speed, decreased numbers of latency events and the agility to move with public cloud-like agility. The only place to find this is with all-flash array storage specifically built for enterprise cloud.

A better way to store that allows you to scale out

nstead of worrying about the RAID HDDs within your legacy or virtualized NAS system, consider a scale-out storage option that allows your infrastructure and architecture to grow right alongside your growing business. NAS and other conventional storage types just don’t have the stamina, speed or flexibility you need within your data center, and cannot compete with storage built specifically for virtual machines (VMs) and containers. The Tintri all-flash array and hybrid-flash storage both give you the options you need to accommodate all your data, software, apps and proprietary information. Regardless of the current storage system you're using, transitioning to storage built for virtualized workloads will make your life easier—and your enterprise sing.

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