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Issue of March 2004 
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Storage: best of both worlds

Volumes have been written about NAS and SAN, and we are aware about the pros and cons of each. But enterprises around the world want to have the best of both storage architectures—all the better if it comes from the same vendor. The fusion of NAS and SAN architectures can improve the management of storage and lower storage costs too. Storage specialists such as EMC and IBM are rising to address this demand by offering integrated storage solutions. While some are adapting SANS for file storage, others choose to push the limits of NAS storage. And there are other innovative approaches to this convergence.

For instance, BlueArc, a relatively less-known company in the world of storage, now offers revolutionary NAS products with SAN-like capabilities. Its SiliconServer product offers the functionality of NAS (file storage) with SAN-like capacity (terabytes). BlueArc claims one model in this product line can scale all the way up to 98 terabytes.

BlueArc recently introduced its Titan SiliconServer, a modular network storage system. Titan delivers 5 Gbps throughput and has the ability to scale to 20 Gbps with one upgrade. The machine's Silicon File System, which supports up to 60,000 users at once, supports file systems up to 256 terabytes and uses "virtual volumes" to partition data for users across the enterprise. This helps reduce storage management issues and eliminates the downtime that can occur with the data migration and reallocation associated with other storage systems.

Another approach to the NAS-SAN convergence is NAS gateways. Typically, these are disk-less devices, file server heads, that connect PCs and servers on IP networks to fiber channel SANs. In January this year, IBM launched its first enterprise-class network-attached storage gateway device for Windows or Unix servers. IBM's NAS Gateway 500 system is a file server head with up to four processors that connects servers and PCs on IP networks to Fibre Channel-based storage.

 
     
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