One of the best ways is to add a storage appliance to your infrastructure that will add additional capabilities or improve the performance of your existing storage. A great example is a network-attached storage (NAS) gateway type of solution. Companies like NetApp Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP), EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), and ONStor Inc. provide these types of solutions.
A NAS gateway is an ideal investment right now; it brings increased flexibility and ease of use to your environment. NAS appliances offer much more than just file services these days. For example, if you are using VMware, you can leverage them to take advantage of its ability to place VMDKs on NFS shares. The ROI here is that with simplification of the storage infrastructure, you can virtualize more of your environment, reducing physical server count while increasing storage efficiency.
If you need inexpensive block I/O, many of these gateways also provide iSCSI connectivity. With iSCSI you can cost-effectively bring the advantages of shared storage to more of your servers. This delivers the ROI of increased storage utilization and, often, improved data protection from features like snapshots and off-host backups.
Then there is the traditional NAS capability to provide file services. In most cases, a single NAS gateway can outperform many Windows file servers, once again reducing costs by eliminating servers. If you use a NAS gateway that has solid multi-platform (Windows and Unix) support, you will also increase ease of use by allowing cross-platform sharing.