Information Technology (IT) departments are looking for cost-effective storage solutions that can offer performance, scalability, and reliability. As users on the network increase and the amounts of data generated multiply, the need for an optimized storage solution becomes essential. Network Attached Storage (NAS) is becoming a critical technology in this environment.

The benefit of NAS over the older Direct Attached Storage (DAS) technology is that it separates servers and storage, resulting in reduced costs and easier implementation. As the name implies, NAS attaches directly to the LAN, providing direct access to the file system and disk storage. Unlike DAS, the application layer no longer resides on the NAS platform, but on the client itself. This frees the NAS processor from functions that would ultimately slow down its ability to provide fast responses to data requests.

In addition, this architecture gives NAS the ability to service both Network File System (NFS) and Common Internet File System (CIFS) clients. As shown in the figure below, this allows the IT manager to provide a single shared storage solution that can simultaneously support both Windows*-and UNIX*-based clients and servers. In fact, a NAS system equipped with the right file system software can support clients based on any operating system.

NAS is typically implemented as a network appliance, requiring a small form factor (both real estate and height) as well as ease of use. NAS is a solution that meets the ever-demanding needs of today s networked storage market.