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The Outer Limits of NAS

The world has accepted server consolidation via NAS, hands down. What isn't clear is how far the consolidation envelope can be pushed before performance suffers.

"There is a growing market for environments that need to address or avoid I/O bottlenecks as a result of overconsolidation of storage capacity, including consolidating multiple smaller NAS filers or servers," maintains Greg Schulz of the StorageIO consultancy.

So where are the performance pain points in NAS scalability, and how are folk coping?

A key focal point appears to be performance, meaning the rate of input/output operations (IOPS) between the servers and NAS, as well as throughput on the storage network.

A simple example illustrates the problem. "If you are consolidating ten Windows storage servers to a NAS...you may be getting approximately 12,000 CIFS IOPS per server. This means just to equal the throughput you're getting from the ten servers, you would need at least 120,000 CIFS IOPS from the NAS server," states Marc Staimer, president of DragonSlayer Consulting.

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