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Op-Ed: The changing world of Internet storage options

By Alyssa Sellors     Nov 26, 2014 in Internet
As technology moves forward, the necessity to quickly and securely store, access, analyze and manage data becomes a great concern for many businesses.
IT needs are growing as are storage options grow, but jumping to the next best thing may not always be the wisest option. Just consider the widespread shift from direct storage attached (DAS) Solid State Disks to Storage Attached Network (SAN). While many companies are jumping at the chance to switch over to SAN, some companies like HostPresto! are proving that the advantages of going the DAS route can outweigh the advantages of the traditional SAN. SAN has recently risen as a more efficient method of providing storage to many servers than each having its own DAS, but this method is proving to be more complex than and not as efficient as once thought to be.
First, SANs feature a cluster of devices connected to hosts via the network, whereas DAS has no network and is instead attached like a hard drive is attached to a home computer. This alone drives people away from DAS because they see the possibility of additional storage with SAN, but additional networks also means more room for error. With DAS, if something happens to the data, it is more easily located because you can isolate a particular server. Because of its decentralized structure, DAS can actually be more secure and safe in this instance. Of course, once a hard drive is full, it’s full, but again, first consider your needs to see if you even need extra storage options that may just add risk.
One of the most attractive qualities of DAS is of course cost. SAN is definitely more expensive, and it’s a cost you may not even need, or want. Not only is it generally more difficult to correctly configure a SAN than it is to use DAS, it’s almost more costly. As explained in an article, “SANs: Always Better than DAS?”, “usually, the cost of a direct-attached I/O solution is much less than the cost of buying a SAN that has the same number of disks that offer comparable cache and performance levels. This means that you can often end up with more spindles for the same price by using DAS rather than a SAN.” What this means is you can actually get better performance by sticking with DAS if you do not need SAN’s “high-end data management and virtualization features” in the first place. And in addition to saving money, DAS also saves power. Instead of disks lying idle consuming energy when not in use, DAS uses the same disk that provides the OS as well as the primary storage for virtual machines, making the best use of power without waste.
Overall, “server-located direct-attached storage (DAS) delivers faster and simpler drive I/O to applications than a SAN can,” as noted in an article, “Direct-attached storage vs SAN: Clustered DAS model gaining favor in virtualized, solid-sate world” on Computer Weekly. Because there are no networks between disks and hosts, DAS offers low-latency processing; SAN on the other hand experiences higher-latency processing because of the additional time it takes to write and read files.
While there are multiple factors to take into consideration, the point here is to think twice before jumping to the next best thing, and instead focus on your particular needs for storage, speed and safety.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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