The future of NAS backup
network-attached storage (NAS) technology advances with a blending of
virtual tape library (VTL)
data deduplication interfaces, it becomes difficult for solution providers
to determine which backup approach is best for their clients. This interview
with NAS expert John Merryman will help you scope out the future of
NAS backup. He has expertise in data protection, technology risk and information
management and has been published in leading industry forums.
In what ways will future NAS deployments differ from today's typical NAS
As organizations move away from distributed Windows file servers, one of the
biggest catalysts for traditional NAS deployments is the demand for server
consolidation. Looking at companies that already have existing NAS footprints, I
think this will continue to be a trend for a lot of organizations -- but there
will be a couple of big things that are going to differ in the future. For
instance, NAS might be leveraged as part of a backup infrastructure and as a
backup target architecture. Another future difference is the inevitable data
management cleanup -- deduplication is really going to become more of a
necessity as data growth continues to increase. Network-attached storage
definitely offers a lot of ways to simplify
filer architectures. Now, you have multiple-protocol access to filer
infrastructure; therefore, a lot of the platforms allow you to go with
block. That, in addition to your traditional
network file system (NFS) or
serial interfaces, is going to be the major way NAS deployment will differ
from three to four years ago.
What NAS vendors and products should solution providers be paying
attention to going forward?
Look out for NAS devices supporting multiple
protocols innate to a single device; that would include iSCSI, NFS, serial
interfaces and glass Fibre Channel. For small-firm environments, storage
consolidation of all block and network-attached storage plus direct-attached
consolidation to iSCSI can all be done relatively easily under one roof.
Enterprises that consolidate low-end and midrange users to a NAS environment
have a great potential as well. Deduplication is definitely a disruptive force
in the market. Another thing to really look at is duplication as a native
capability within the device. This would enable you to eliminate a lot of
How are virtual tape library and data
deduplication functions changing the way NAS architecture is structured?
NAS devices are being used as filers and as
backup targets. When NAS devices are being used as filers, some platforms offer
native deduplication and are designed around a profile so that they're not
massive input/output graphers (IOGs) like VTLs. However, when NAS devices are
used as backup targets, you see a lot of changed applications. It's important to
recognize that a NAS device is being used as a backup target when it has
What changes in the market can be
anticipated by combining NAS with VTL and data deduplication interfaces?
In my opinion, the big change is that
interfaces may become a non issue. The question ultimately may become less about
if you have an NFS or VTL interface and more about your preferred method of
connectivity. Would you want 1 Gb or 10 Gb Ethernet? Is Fibre Channel more of a
preferred method? It may boil down to the backup application and what type of
I/O and channel program suit the application, but personally I think you're
going to see a leveling of the playing field when it comes to interfaces.
Which deduplication method or overall
integration model do you think will become the future industry standard?
VTL definitely has a lot of market share out
there when it comes to being a backup target. All of your devices down the road
are going to have VTL and NAS interfaces, and this just means that IP and Fibre
Channel inbound connectivity is going to be an option for your average device.
Also, being able to replicate data between your NAS or VTL devices is going to
become more of a standard. VTL vendors are going to continue to try and package
their wares for simplicity and ease of use, very much in an appliance form.
That's a lot like what NAS vendors have been doing for a very long time. The VTL
landscape is moving very much in the way of the NAS vendors in terms of their
architecture hurdles -- simplicity of use, package appliances, rich capabilities
under the hood and not a lot of customization that's required on the part of the