Six Reasons to Get Smarter About Storage

Six Reasons to Get Smarter About Storage

Where do the digital assets of your business live?

Most likely, your storage of data, audio, and video files is promiscuous. It lives on PC hard drives, in portable USB flash drives, and on server hard drives.

The problem: this type of storage causes loss of data because of human error or drive failure. It also makes it difficult to share files, expand capacity, and secure the stored data against unauthorized use and theft.

NAS: Less Is More

A growing trend in small businesses is to solve these problems with a simpler, more elegant technology: network-attached storage (NAS).

A NAS appliance centralizes the storage of data from file servers, laptops, and PCs on the network. Many NAS appliances accommodate hard drives that have at least 1 TB capacity and can be assigned to a Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID); if one drive fails, the other(s) still have the stored information.

Benefits of NAS technology are that it:

  • Prevents data loss by creating a central secure repository and automating backup
  • Costs less and expands better than file server-based storage
  • Lets users in any location easily share files, whether their operating system is Windows, Macintosh, or Linux

Now, more intelligent NAS appliances, such as the new Cisco® Small Business NSS 300 Series Smart Storage solution, perform the dual role of applications server and storage. One box does it all: storing, securing, and backing up 2 to 12 TB of data, as well as serving as a file-share, web, email, or multimedia server.

Why Businesses Say Smarter Is Better

Four small businesses that have tested the Cisco NSS 300 report on ways it differs from other NAS storage methods:

1. Cost savings: "We'll save considerable cash by not needing dedicated servers. Instead of having to buy a server platform, the drives, OS, and user licenses, we can use the smart storage box and save a lot of money," says the director of IT at 50-employee medical records software company.
"Instead of our remote sites buying a dedicated file server, they can use this box - and also get impressive RAID storage and automatic backup," says the business analyst at a supply chain management services company with 100 computer users. "This box is so much more, for a cost that is much less."

2. Reliable availability: "We believe RAID is essential for ensuring that our file servers are up and available to users," says the business analyst. "It's also great to have hot-swappable drives."

3. Fast transfer of files: "Its performance is very impressive. NAS can have a reputation for being slow, but this appliance has quick data transfer," says the CTO at a 45-employee financial consulting and litigation support firm.

"It has no problems whatsoever pushing files back and forth," says the systems analyst at 63-employee security services firm.

4. Security: "It has two big security advantages," says the systems analyst. "It ties in Microsoft Active Directory, making it fast and easy to control who can access what data. And it includes on-disk data encryption. EHR [Electronic Health Records] are the lifeblood of our company. The on-disk encryption keeps EHRs secure even if the box is stolen, and it's great for HIPAA compliance."

5. Easy to use: "It's plug-and-play, really, very easy. Any person with basic computer knowledge should be able to set it up. It's a simpler way for our employees and contractors in the field to download and upload files," says the analyst. "We can set it up as an FTP server, and users simply log into the web to instantly share all kinds of technical documents with other people working on the project."

6. Energy efficiency: "It's a 'green' machine," says the analyst. "We work hard to save energy, especially in our data center, and this box is quite efficient. It doesn't have to be in an air-conditioned room, and it's quiet. It's also attractive enough to sit on an office desktop."

"Smart storage is a leap forward in NAS," concludes the medicals records director of IT. "It's got the performance and features, plus all these built-in applications and add-ons that let you do other things, saving the cost of other dedicated hardware and software licenses. It's a very cool way to do storage."

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Next Steps
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