Control your NAS like you control your SAN

Don MacVittie explains that you have a switch that connects various SAN arrays and when your arrays become over-burdened:

“I was pondering over the weekend the concept that a SAN is relatively easy to manage – at least on the surface – because it is, in essence, a network in and of itself. Separated from the IP network, you have a switch that connects various SAN arrays and when your arrays become over-burdened, you can just drop another one in and plug it into the switch. Easy. And since the switch is not generally from the same vendor as the storage array, you can plug in whatever array you find most appealing this week. Migrating data between arrays can be tricky, but these days there are solutions for that. Initialization can be painful, particularly if you want to add it to an existing pool and distribute data across it like it had always been there or you’re using at-rest encryption, but that’s just time you have to wait while it runs, your staff isn’t required unless something goes wrong.

Whither the same type of adaptability and expandability in the NAS space? That’s where devices like our ARX come in. It sits between your machine and your storage, it cares not how much or what brand of storage sits behind it (in fact, at least for ARX, you can even point it at random shares on your Windows servers if you feel the need), and it allows you to just plug in more disk space and manage it centrally. You have the same issues with initial config that you would otherwise have, but the box is then part of the File Virtualization product’s virtual directory, and can be accessed, moved about, whatever.

This is the part where NAS vendors start to huff and puff and talk about their astounding management and integration, and how easy it is to add storage to the system, etc. etc. etc. And they are 100% right. Modern NAS systems are astounding in their versatility and ease of management. As long as they’re homogeneous systems. Throw another vendor on the network and ask the same questions again. You’ll get a set of answers that makes it clear these tools are only for their products.

And that’s one of the many many reasons why a high-quality File (NAS) Virtualization product is more than a little useful. They generally don’t cater to one vendor, they give you all the things you have if you are a single-source shop, but you can apply it to whatever NAS – or even Windows Shared – storage you have in the house. Simplified management, ease of data movement when necessary, you name it. All across whatever hardware you happen to have today or will have in the future.”

source: (101/07/2009)

Synology NAS Disk Station Manager (2.2)

The long-awaited firmware, supporting a selection of Synology‘s 7-series, 8-series and 9-series NAS units, introduces a number of new features aimed at delivering a better multimedia experience.

Some of the firmware’s highlights include support for DLNA-compliant devices, a built-in firewall, and integration with Apple’s popular iPhone/iPod touch handsets. With free apps DS Photo and DS Audio, Synology users can now upload photos from their iPhone directly to Disk Station, as well as being able to stream music direct to their handset.

Interested in getting new functionality on your existing Synology NAS? Details of how to apply to join the beta are available by clicking here, and Synology tells us that it’ll award three “valuable” beta testers with a free DS109 NAS when the beta program ends.

Synology lists the key enhancements of the Disk Station Manager 2.2 beta as follows, and a complete list of supported models can be found below.

  • DLNA Compliant Media Server:
  • iPhone Support
  • Mobile Photo Station and File Station
  • iSCSI
  • Firewall
  • SNMP
  • Auto Block
  • Resource Monitor
  • Apple Time Machine Support
  • SMS Notification
  • Windows ADS Support Enhancements:
  • Surveillance Station 2 Enhancements
  • Download Station Enhancements
  • iTunes Server

Full details of the key enhancements can be found here

Just released – Netgear RAIDiator 4.1.6

NETGEAR is pleased to announce the release of RAIDiator 4.1.6, an update firmware for the ReadyNAS NV+, NV, Duo, 1100, X6, and (see Limitations).  We urge that you update to the latest firmware to take advantage of newly added features and bug fixes. The simplest way to update is to use the System/Update/Remote tab in Frontview. If you prefer, you can choose to do a local update by first downloading the new image here:  RAIDiator-4.1.6.

New features and bugfixes can be found here

MAC NAS shopping tips

It should not really matter whether you use FreeBSD, Linux, Windows or MAC OS to access a NAS server. However, Macworld has some advice:

Mac Compatibility

Not all NAS drives play nice with Macs. In the NAS world, SMB (Server Message Block), a Windows file-sharing protocol, rules. Macs can use it, but due to some file-naming restrictions, you may have to rename some files. Macs use AFP (Apple Filing Protocol) for file sharing, so look for NAS drives that support it—some support Bonjour (OS X’s built-in networking protocol for local network devices), too. For configuring ease, most NAS drives come with software or a Web browser-based wizard that’ll walk you through the process, but some setups can be tricky—especially if the device doesn’t support AFP.

Drive Facility

NAS devices have either a preinstalled hard drive or an empty enclosure that lets you dictate the storage capacity (you’ll need to purchase an internal hard drive and install it yourself, but you could save some money by going this route).

Extra Features

Many NAS drives offer additional benefits. If you want to offload your music, movies, and photos onto a centralized server and stream content to multiple computers, look for NAS drives with media server functionality (many support iTunes streaming). If you want to back up files, look for a drive that provides backup capability through software, a USB port to connect an external hard drive, or RAID support (only a few support Time Machine, which requires a Mac-only HFS+ formatted drive). If you want to access the drive remotely, look for a model that offers access over the Internet or FTP.”

Macworld also recommends 3 NAS products:

  • LaCie Ethernet Disk mini
  • NewerTech MiniStack NAS
  • Netgear ReadyNAS Duo

The article finishes with some words on AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule

Source and full article:

What is Unified Storage?

George Crump explains on what Unified Storage si

What started as a whisper has now become a roar. All of a sudden every storage vendor you talk to has Unified Storage and all of a sudden you MUST have it. All of which begs the question, what is unified storage and do you need it?

It seems like most of the storage suppliers have some sort of unified storage strategy but they all seem very different from each other. Unified in storage terms most often means that the storage system can often do more than one thing, in most cases this means it can be a SAN (Storage Area Network) i.e. block storage and a NAS (Network Attached Storage) i.e. File Services.

For many vendors this means that the storage system can support multiple storage protocols, most often iSCSI and the two NAS protocols (NFS and CIFS), somehow many, not all leave out fibre, which seems odd since it is still the dominant protocol in larger enterprises. Unified storage should include support of fibre, especially if the target market is the larger data center.

In some cases a supplier will claim unification if they add a gateway type of device to a existing storage infrastructure, typically a NAS head that attaches to the SAN. This is more an amortization of storage resources more so than unification. It does not mean that it is a flawed strategy, just that its a bit of a stretch to equate a gateway to a unified storage system.

The goal of unification is to try to reduce the number of interfaces and devices you have in your storage environment and only a few of the suppliers accomplish this. Basically one box or system that does NAS and SAN all managed and controlled by a single storage software interface. In theory this should simplify storage management.

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