On Rob Kaufmann’s Thesis: NAS vs. Cloud Part 2

On Rob Kaufmann’s Thesis: NAS vs. Cloud 2

Read Part 1

So, we’ve seen that Kaufmann’s assertion of bandwidth problems and ‘control’ are not entirely convincing. This time, we’ll take a look at two of his further claims as to why NAS (network attached storage) is, in data-sensitive or data-rich cases, a better solution than Cloud services.

Kaufmann suggests that “a lot of cloud services will have limits. Because they’re serving [tens of thousands] of people, they might be able to give you only 20 gigabytes.” And that, on the face of it, is a valid objection. It’s simply no good to have your enterprise run out of space right when it needs scalability. By adopting a NAS approach, you can just whack a few more drives in the local rack.

There is reason to this. For one, NAS is local, so opting to increase storage is highly controllable. For two, enterprises in the start-up stage have much finer control over their scalability, and flexibility is key at this point.

That may be so, but Cloud computing has its own variant approach to this problem. And it’s immensely scalable. And, to trump Kaufmann’s issue, it’s proprietor-independent. It’s called OpenStack.

Designed to be hardware-agnostic – so it doesn’t matter whose machines you link up to whose – OpenStack provides amazing scalability. And rapidly, too. Running out of room? Just rent a few more terabytes of space from the cheapest provider. Then roll it in to your existing OpenStack network using the open-source Storage software – there’s even a friendly GUI, Dashboard.

This actually counters the final one of Kaufmann’s points – that Cloud services could cost ‘hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month’, with huge additional premiums for scaling up. With network attached storage, scaling up is hardly an issue (just purchase a bit more hardware and pop it in). “All you’re paying for is upkeep,” he says.

And that, in a way, is true. You are only paying for upkeep. And, of course, making a capital investment in hardware that will certainly deteriorate and has no effective market value. And the real estate you need to store that. And the security you need to guard it. And the IT team you need to manage it. Rather than outsourcing those pains to a company – or a diverse range of companies – who have tailored all that in to their bulk-provision cost.

That’s perhaps a little one-sided. For one,  Network Attached Storage allows all of these things to be done in-house. If your data is sensitive, or you just need finer control over who has access to what and when, NAS is going to be the more reasonable option.

OpenStack providers are designed to work with one another. Dell offer OpenStack. HP offer Openstack. Rackspace Cloud offer Openstack. Even NASA offer it. And the best thing? It’s hardware-agnostic. So Openstack’s IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) can speak between them as if there wasn’t any geographical gap in between them at all.

So, those are my opinions on Kaufmann’s analysis. The only point of his that really concerns me is that of global internet provision in the future. But I’m not overly-fussed – aspects to distributed computing – and distributed networking – such as client-side virtualisation look to provide a fairly solid foundation for bandwidth expansion in future. Add to that developments in optical and wireless broadbands and I think that we have the ‘bandwidth problem’ under control for now. Internationally, governments are pouring funds in to network infrastructure, which has barely been a consideration up to now.

However, I’m always happy to admit I’m wrong. Kaufmann certainly has a point – NAS might just prove the better option for some enterprises, especially those in the start-up stage. If you’ve got another opinion, please let me know – just whack a comment in the section below.

Guest Article By Joanna Stevenson

Joanna studied mechanical engineering in London, and currently works for an energy research and consulting firm. She enjoys writing tech and business articles in her free time. She aspires to be an intrepid tech and gaming enthusiast with the exploratory spirit and witty prose of her favourite author of Robert Louis Stevenson.  Treasure Island for the tech world.

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