Computers are handling more data than ever before, and though hard drives continue to grow larger and larger, theres still not enough space to store all of the files. In addition, administrators are saddled with the extra burden of ensuring that there are backups of that data—typically through the use of redundant arrays of inexpensive disks (RAID).
This leaves network administrators with a dilemma: How do they increase storage capacity without disrupting the day-to-day operations of their networks? Adding file servers once seemed a viable option, but in this economy, it means spending a lot on hardware and taxing an already taxed IT staff.
This is especially difficult for smaller organizations with little internal IT support. Administrators who are already stretched thin can become too overwhelmed by being forced to grow their networks. No one wants to add to administrative headaches; IT people need low-maintenance solutions.
Many of them are turning to todays entry-level network-attached storage (NAS) devices. These systems represent a largely plug-and-play method of adding storage for network users. NAS devices have come a long way; early generations of NAS products were often based on some type of Unix kernel, making them difficult to configure for non-Unix network administrators. And integrating the devices with existing NetWare or Windows networks wasnt as simple as it should have been. Issues frequently loomed large regarding device configuration and access control setup.