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Pros & cons of clustered NAS and a
look into the NAS market
Traditional NAS systems are now encountering a bottleneck in the face
of today’s massive data rates. Clustered NAS systems have been a
way for storage managers to cope with this growth – allowing for
higher controller and space utilization and improved scalability. But
who actually needs clustered NAS? And, perhaps more importantly –
could your organization benefit from it? In this
E-Guide, storage experts Marc Staimer and Dave Raffo discuss
clustered NAS and vendors in the NAS market. This E-guide will touch
upon important topics surrounding clustered NAS, such as; what
clustered NAS is and what it isn’t the benefits and drawbacks of
clustering NAS, and who can benefit from it.

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                            Pros & cons of clustered NAS and a look into the NAS market

       Pros & cons of clustered NAS and a
       look into the NAS market
       Table of Contents
       Using clustered network-attached storage (NAS) to manage
       unstructured data

       Gluster combines object and file storage

       Resources from Gluster

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                                Pros & cons of clustered NAS and a look into the NAS market

Using clustered network-attached storage (NAS) to
manage unstructured data
Marc Staimer, president of Dragon Slayer Consulting, discusses the pros and cons of
clustered network-attached storage (NAS) and the vendors in the NAS market in this FAQ.

What is clustered NAS and how does it differ from traditional NAS?

Clustered NAS, or network-attached storage, is different from typical network-attached
storage in that it uses a distributed file system that runs simultaneously on multiple nodes
or servers. The key differentiating factor between clustered NAS and traditional NAS is its
ability to stripe the data and metadata across the storage nodes and subsystems. This
provides access to the network file system from any of the clustered nodes unrelated to the
actual location of the data.

What are the benefits of clustering NAS?

It's a scaling situation. There's an old saying with network-attached storage that goes
something like this: "I loved my first NAS. I really liked my second. By my tenth I was
pulling my hair out."

As network-attached storage scales you get to a point where you can't put anything more in
a filer, so you have to get another filer. Then you have to manage both filers -- so you think
"OK, so I have two times the workload." Well, not exactly. You are going to have more than
two times the workload because you have to start moving data between them and make
sure you are getting the optimum use of both. That being said, two still isn't that bad.
Three? With three, the balancing gets a lot tougher. Once you get up to 10, it's a

So, a clustered NAS solution is designed to provide a single image, a single mount point,
and it does all of that load balancing among the nodes without any human intervention. So,
you have, in effect, one very large bucket, and you can add more nodes as you go.

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                                Pros & cons of clustered NAS and a look into the NAS market

What are the drawbacks of clustered network-attached storage?

The biggest drawback of clustered NAS is that most clustered NAS products are designed for
a lot of data streams and a lot of users. A single data stream for performance isn't going to
perform better, and in some cases, it may perform worse than a single data stream in
traditional NAS.

Who needs clustered network-attached storage? Is there a typical use case?

There are a lot of use cases. Unstructured data today is growing much faster than
structured data. PowerPoint presentations, MP3s, Microsoft Word documents, the things that
people use on their laptops and desktops -- all of this stuff is growing much faster than
structured information such as databases, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and mail
servers. In fact, this year, unstructured data will surpass structured data in most data

So, just about everyone needs filer or NAS-type systems. The clustered NAS products have
a nice leg up in an environment where you have lots of users accessing the same files. So,
for example, in the verticals, they have been doing this for a while. The entertainment and
music industry uses clustered NAS quite a bit, because it allows you to share workflows.

Think of that from a video or film production point of view, and that's very nice. And, it
scales. Easier than, let's say, a storage area network (SAN) file system. Life sciences,
pharmaceuticals, oil and gas -- these have been the industries using clustered NAS. Now,
having said that, it's becoming more mainstream. One area where you are going to see it
grow considerably is in the cloud-based data storage offerings.

Who are the major vendors in the clustered network-attached storage market?

There are quite a few. In no particular order:




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                               Pros & cons of clustered NAS and a look into the NAS market

       Hewlett-Packard (HP) Enhanced File Services (formerly PolyServe)




       NetApp Ontap GX

       Isilon Systems

       IBM Scale-out File Services

       Active Circle



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                                 Pros & cons of clustered NAS and a look into the NAS market

Gluster combines object and file storage
By Dave Raffo

Object storage has been hailed as a better way to store files than traditional NAS, and
perhaps even a long-term replacement for file storage. Now open-source software vendor
Gluster has integrated object and NAS capabilities in the same file system.

The GlusterFS 3.3 beta that became available this week lets users store and access the
same data as an object and a file. They can store objects and then access those objects as
files, or view and access files as objects. The idea is to make it easier to migrate file-based
applications to object storage so they can be used in the cloud.

GlusterFS is an open source file system that scales to petabytes with global namespace.
Version 3.3 has an object interface integrated into that file system.

“Probably 95 percent of enterprise applications haven’t been able to leverage object storage
and move to the cloud,” Gluster director of product marketing Tom Trainer said.
“Integrating it in one system will accelerate the integration to object storage.

Gluster customers can access data as objects from any Amazon S3 compatible interface and
access files from its NFS and CIFS interfaces. Trainer said service providers can use
GlusterFS to build Amazon-like storage for customers. It can also be used to migrate legacy
applications to the cloud and scale NAS across the Internet to a public cloud.

There have been other approaches to integrating object and file storage, although Trainer
maintains that GlusterFS has the deepest integration of object and file interfaces.

Most object storage products such as EMC Atmos, Scality, OpenStack and Amazon S3 don’t
have file systems. Caringo, which began as object storage, added an NFS and CIFS interface
for its object store and Nirvanix’s CloudNAS makes its object storage look like NAS to an

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                                Pros & cons of clustered NAS and a look into the NAS market

Resources from Gluster

An Introduction to Gluster Architecture

Performance in a Gluster System

Customer Case Studies

About Gluster
Gluster is the leading provider of open source storage solutions for public, private and
hybrid clouds. Over 150 enterprises worldwide have used Gluster in commercial
deployments ranging from a few terabytes to multiple petabytes, across the most
demanding applications in digital media delivery, healthcare, Internet, energy and biotech.
Gluster is privately-held and headquartered in Sunnyvale, California.

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