Network Attached Storage Architecture

COMMUNICATIONS OF THE ACM, Vol.43, No.11, November 2000.

Garth A. Gibson and Rodney Van Meter*

School of Computer Science
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


*Nokia Internet Communications
Santa Cruz, CA.

The growing market for networked storage is a result of the exploding demand for storage capacity in our increasingly internet-dependent world and its tight labor market. Storage area networks (SAN) and network attached storage (NAS) are two proven approaches to networking storage. Technically, including a file system in a storage subsystem differentiates NAS, which has one, from San, which doesn't. In practice, however, it is often NAS's close association with ethernet network hardware and SAN with Fibre Channel network hardware that has a greater effect on a user's purchasing decisions. This article is about how emerging technology may blur the network-centric distinction between NAS and SAN. For example, the decreasing specialization of SAN protocols promises SAN-like devices on Ethernet network hardware. Alternatively, the increasing specialization of NAS systems may embed much of the file system into storage devices. For users, it is increasingly worthwhile to investigate networked storage core and emerging technologies.





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