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IP Storage Devices

Product Roll Call

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In the past, an IT manager's only option might have been an expensive and complicated FC-SAN solution, because a less expensive NAS configuration couldn't provide the block-level storage needed for applications like Exchange Server and hefty database applications, such as SQL Server and Oracle. Today, a number of NAS manufacturers have adopted the iSCSI protocol, letting you create easily scalable iSCSI volumes within its shared file space.

This is an interesting development because the choice between block-level and file-level storage no longer determines your storage model--one networked device can manage file shares and block storage simultaneously. This amalgamation of iSCSI SAN and NAS is a true marriage of convenience, combining the ease of use of a NAS appliance, virtualized block-level storage, and a familiar and popular network fabric.

Such a device offers powerful storage-virtualization capabilities that let you create storage pools, introduce arrays and create volumes. You also can increase existing block and file storage dynamically without taking the system down, and without repartitioning and formatting existing volumes. This level of storage management was nonexistent or relegated to high-end SAN environments only a short time ago, but it's becoming more common with the newest generation of IP storage devices.

Below we examine three scenarios and three iSCSI-capable storage devices that represent three levels of affordable IT solutions: a NAS based on Windows Storage Server, a NAS running a Linux NAS OS, and a modular iSCSI SAN.

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