The functionality of NAS gateways is identical to that of NAS appliances with dedicated storage; however, each vendor's implementation varies in its degree of interoperability. NAS gateways allow a company to transform existing storage systems into file-sharing and data-sharing platforms which can be accessed via a standard network.
NAS gateways provide another benefit: They allow Windows administrators to share new storage between file-based (NAS) and block-based (SAN) access.
NAS gateways are also an effective way to implement a tiered storage infrastructure, because they enable access to different tiers of SAN-attached storage while providing tiered connectivity for servers. The gateways allow Windows administrators to re-allocate storage capacity across different servers and NAS gateways. This flexibility gives an admin an alternative to having to maintain dedicated pools of physical storage to specific NAS devices or servers.
This means that storage can be utilized more efficiently across different NAS devices and block-attached
Bottom line: If you have an existing SAN, you may want to consider deploying a NAS gateway to improve storage utilization and enhance your overall return on investment (ROI). By understanding the performance characteristics (I/Os, bandwidth, response time) of target applications, you can determine if you have adequate available network bandwidth to support these and other applications on NAS.
About the author: Greg Schulz is the founder of StorageIO, an analyst research and consulting firm specializing in IT infrastructure. He is also the author of Resilient Storage Networks: Designing Flexible Scalable Data Infrastructures, which is published by Digital Press.
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This was first published in May 2006