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Coping With the Nasty Side of NAS

It's every IT exec's worst nightmare: Today's solution turns into tomorrow's problem. Unfortunately, this scenario has played out in all too many enterprises with regard to network-attached storage (NAS).

Over the years, companies embraced NAS like almost no other concept in storage, plunking hordes of these devices onto their networks. So what if you had to install yet another box when you reached capacity? For quickly serving up files, NAS is about as easy as it gets.

Then came the letdown: These monolithic devices couldn't think outside the box, as it were. With specialized NAS file systems residing all alone within each unit, incapable of communicating with other, like-minded units, storage folks found themselves having to babysit each device individually. Hence, the dreaded "islands of storage" problem.

A few concurrent trends have given hope for NAS consolidation. These include converging NAS and SAN, along with reworking NAS to make it a heartier enterprise solution on its own.

As we discuss in this month's Byte and Switch Insider report, NAS Update: Survival of the Fittest, these trends have accelerated considerably in the past year. There are more NAS products available than ever, and a growing roster of suppliers large and small show no sign of slowing down their NAS development.

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