Integrated NAS & IPSAN
Unified storage refers to a single storage system that supports both file and block level access. In other words, the storage subsystem can support NAS (file-based access) and iSCSI (block-based access) storage protocols simultaneously.
Unified storage reduces hardware costs and simplifies storage architecture, making it more flexible, more robust and, most importantly, cheaper and easier to manage. Dedicated unified storage systems are popular at SMBs and remote offices where there is little flexibility in how servers are attached to storage. However, this approach may result in storage administrators having to manage two systems: the SAN array and the NAS head. Unified storage systems generally cost the same and enjoy the same level of reliability as dedicated file or block storage systems.
High performance and low maintenance have established Unified storage Technology as one of the best investments in Storage Industry.
IP Storage consists of three different protocols:-
- iSCSI (Internet SCSI)
- iFCP (Internet Fibre Channel Protocol)
- FCIP (Fibre Channel over IP)
iSCSI is a means of transporting SCSI packets over TCP/IP to enable Ethernet-based Storage Area Network (SAN); iFCP and FCIP are bridging technologies which provide interconnection of Fibre Channel SANs and TCP/IP networks.
IP Storage solutions greatly broaden the options available to IT executives to address the cost, availability, performance and manageability issues caused by constant data growth, and they accelerate the transition from a direct-attached to a networked storage model. iSCSI provides the foundation for networked storage solutions in environments where Fibre Channel would not be cost-effective, for example in departmental data centres where we find many lower-end servers typically running midrange enterprise applications; this is an excellent price/performance fit for iSCSI over Gigabit Ethernet. In this environment iSCSI is also a popular solution for disk-based storage for regulated or archive data. Low end iSCSI solutions are also becoming popular inside SANs in remote offices, as they provide the performance and availability benefits of centralized storage while also giving the option to support file storage.
Today, iSCSI is being deployed primarily in environments dominated by mid-range and low-end servers where the applications tend to be mostly business-critical at the departmental level and sometimes mission-critical in smaller enterprises. Organizations relying on home-grown applications running on smaller servers with internal or direct-attached storage are also finding iSCSI a great storage consolidation solution, since the migration to an IP SAN is affordable and relatively painless. Storage consolidation, simplified data protection, affordable disaster recovery, and improved data management are all major reasons behind IP Storage implementations.
The pace at which IP Storage has gone from an emerging standard to a mainstream networked storage technology is truly staggering and the rate of adoption is quickening. The time is now right for all IT executives to take advantage of the latest networked storage opportunities and find out how IP Storage can address some of the most critical data management pain points in their environments.
Benefits of unified storage:
Unified storage can be simple and inexpensive to manage. Another benefit is in being able to deploy only file-based access initially, for example, with iSCSI and Fibre Channel access activated as the needs of the business or test project evolve.
This flexibility also gives users time to develop the skills necessary to manage the various protocols. NAS systems are simplest to deploy and manage. Next comes NAS-plus-iSCSI, which adds an iSCSI driver that executes SCSI target-mode commands against a particular volume (or LUN) dedicated to a specific application. Those unified storage systems that add Fibre Channel capabilities are natively more complex because there are more high-end enterprise capabilities to contend with compared to an iSCSI environment, such as LUN masking or LUN affinity.
Unified storage can also bring cost savings, as the same disk array can be used for both file- and block-based access. This translates into a potential green storage benefit, since with NAS and SAN in one box; a company can cut down on floor space, power and cooling.
Administration costs are increasingly the largest part of any company’s storage budget. In the enterprise, economies of scale can lighten the blow but for the small/medium sized business, simplicity is everything. The small/medium sized business data centre has many of the same demands as the enterprise data centre but with only a fraction of the administration budget. Administrators are left working with two separate management interfaces, at an absolute minimum, where the true issues of interoperability are not resolved. Ironically, the user-friendliness of each separate system can end up blocking the administrator from handling the necessary underlying complexity that has been created.