NAS or Object: What’s the Best On-Premises Storage Solution?

By: Jacqueline Lee - Leave a comment


The volume of data generated by end-point proliferation, especially through mobile and Internet of Things devices drives enterprises to invest in on-premises storage. Global Industry Analysts (GIA) says digital information represents as much as 50 percent of the value of a business, exceeding assets like hardware and software. Big-data projects are transforming their strategies from descriptive to prescriptive, thus equipping organizations to extract more value from their digital information.

GIA predicts the global market for scale-out network-attached storage (NAS) will reach $13.2 billion by 2022. Although North America represents the largest market for NAS, the Asia-Pacific market is the fastest-growing, with a projected 15 percent compound annual growth rate over the next five years.

But NAS isn’t the only storage option. For data that needs to be accessible globally through diverse environments, object storage offers a solution. Storing file metadata with the object instead of a separate file management system allows data to be accessed easily by multiple applications. The file location no longer matters because objects are replicated across multiple storage nodes, providing both global scalability and redundancy. Plus, data can be stored on existing resources, which means a company doesn’t necessarily need to invest in new, costly devices.

Find the Right On-Premises Storage Mix

Choosing between an NAS or object storage investment can be challenging, especially as their features overlap. For example, some object-storage solutions have added interface access options like file and block storage, and some NAS solutions run on commodity servers and use object storage protocols. So, when deciding which solution is right for your data center, keep these six considerations in mind.

1. Speed

When latency isn’t acceptable in an application or when data changes frequently, on-premises NAS is the better choice. The distributed nature of object storage makes it slower and preferable for storing files that change little over time. For example, real-time financial transactions are best supported by NAS, not object storage.

2. Management Simplicity

Managing an intricate on-premises storage network consisting of specialized devices and fiber connection over Ethernet requires an administrator to maintain and configure storage. Object storage often uses commodity hardware, so it doesn’t require the same level of specialized knowledge or management to interweave vendor relationships.

3. Scalability

Thanks to its light file management structure, object storage shines when it comes to scalability. Because the object’s location doesn’t matter, enterprises can incorporate distributed storage resources that extend beyond the premises, thus easily creating more nodes as needed.

4. Data Durability

Object storage has built-in resiliency from multiple copies of data maintained on a distributed architecture. When object storage systems detect an error in a file, they automatically will rebuild data across other nodes. While object storage can be great for backing up data that changes infrequently, it doesn’t replace NAS for data that must be accurate every time it’s accessed.

5. Legacy Applications

Many legacy applications were written to the Portable Operating System Interface for Unix (POSIX) standard, explains Jeff Kato, senior storage analyst of the Taneja Group in TechTarget. POSIX enables centralized access management and prevents multiple applications from accessing the same files simultaneously. Because object storage doesn’t always offer byte-level access, it can be challenging to rewrite legacy applications to access object storage.

6. Cost

When lowest cost per gigabyte is of top concern, object storage is hard to beat. NAS often requires managing vendor-specific devices and a high-performance metadata system. Because service quality is usually the biggest advantage of NAS, data centers must support it with high-speed internodal infrastructure. These investments can come with significant capital expenditures.

Creating a balanced storage infrastructure empowers enterprises to respond to today’s storage challenges and prepare for the ways future technologies and the data they generate will affect business. For a company with half its value tied up in data, storage optimization is a necessary investment.

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About The Author

Jacqueline Lee

Freelance Writer

Jacqueline Lee specializes in business and technology writing, drawing on over 10 years of experience in business, management and entrepreneurship. Currently, she blogs for HireVue and IBM, and her work on behalf of client brands has appeared in Huffington Post, Forbes, Entrepreneur and Inc. Magazine. In addition to writing, Jackie works as a social media... Read More