As the needs of a small business grows, so too will its reliance on scalable data storage and dissemination systems. Currently, file servers are the standard means to facilitate, but with the emergence of business oriented Windows Home Server (WHS) solutions, there are now practical alternatives. So why would a small business elect a network attached storage (NAS) solution like the Data Vault over a traditional file server? Well, it all comes down to three key benefits:
Keep in mind that the target audience for Data Vault is non-technical, emerging business people with minimal IT knowledge or desire to manage complex technology. An entry-level server will require far more hands on administration than the Data Vault, which is a complete ‘out of box’ solution. Servers need to be configured with a host of add-ons; although, pre-sales and installation can be supported by a reseller, the net effect is more time and cost invested.
The HP StorageWorks X510 1TB Data Vault retails for $699, while traditional fileservers, such as the HP Proliant Proliant ML 110 G5 start at $599. The less IT-savvy could assume that the base file server is cheaper, but remember that additional server configurables cost extra. Tack on, Windows Small Business Server (10 client license), additional hard drives, RAID-1 setup, a RAID controller, processor, etc. the loaded price is actually closer to $3,500 excluding any application software like a database, web server s/w or the cost of installation and setup by the reseller (if required). A comparable Dell server, the PowerEdge T1000, costs roughly the same amount when configured like-for-like.
Basic RAID-1 requires two hard drives in the server, both of equal sizes, one mirroring the other. Everything is backed up regardless of whether it is important or not. Folder Duplication via WHS allows the user to define redundant mirroring on selected folders at the click of a button. Only this data is copied leaving the remaining storage capacity free for other uses. And thanks to WHS Drive Extender, hard drives of different sizes can be used to create a single storage pool, removing some of the complexity of RAID and allowing for greater flexibility in terms of storage use.
To clarify, a NAS solution is not a file server, so it can not perform the tasks that require a ‘traditional’ server solution, such as:
- File and print
- Web messaging
- Small vertical applications or databases
- Shared internet access and LAN infrastructure
Understand that the aim here is not to devalue the use of servers, just highlight the situations when the NAS solution would be more appropriate. Also, keep in mind that Data Vault can be used as a simple D2D device to back up an entry level file server.
|Server Attribute||NAS Appliance||General Application Server|
|Performance||The hardware and operating systems are designed and optimized to perform a single function very efficiently. Admin overhead is low.||The hardware and operating systems are designed to support application serving and multiple general purpose functions. Admin overhead is high.|
|Reliability||The streamlined, i.e., simple, architecture promotes high reliability.||The large number of non-embedded components plus a complex operating system contribute to a higher possibility of failure.|
|Administration||The relatively simple operating system requires less “care and feeding.”||The more complex network operating system demands greater attention.|
|Connectivity||The server is network operating system independent, supporting multiple client protocols like FTP, SMB and AFP.||The server is network operating system dependent. Clients must accommodate the server’s interface and protocol requirements.|
|Backup||“Transparent” to other application services.||Diverts resources from other application services.|
|Costs||All hardware and software components facilitate a single function–data I/O. There are no extraneous, i.e., non-data I/O, expenses.||The hardware and software support both data I/O and non-data I/O functions.|
|Total Cost of Ownership||Low||High|