Moving from a server-centric storage network to a storage-centric network is surprisingly easy, NAS servers just need to be hooked up to the network and can then be remotely configured from any client or server. Even better, NAS servers don't even need a monitor and a keyboard, they can be managed and configured via your web browser from any computer on the network.
Due to the fact that the NAS is a network device it is compatible with just about any network protocol or operating system, simply because it only communicates with the server and the clients using these network protocols. A NAS can generally be installed in minutes. Installation consists of attaching power and a network cable and assigning an IP address for the NAS server. Often, it is even simpler, as a DHCP server will simply assign an IP address to the NAS server automatically.
From a performance perspective NAS servers are much faster at delivering data than a server in a server-centric storage network, simply because the NAS is optimized for just two things, data delivery and networking, it doesn't have any other overhead. By eliminating everything else they greatly improve performance and reliability. However, the whole storage-centric approach will significantly increase overall network and server performance too, as the server can allocate all its resources to file serving, authentication, email, etc. as the NAS takes care of the actual data delivery.
One of the biggest advantages of storage-centric networking however is the fact that it offers managed scalability. You can easily add more NAS servers, thereby increasing your network storage capacity, without increasing management complexity, a reassuring thought for future upgrades. A typical NAS server can be connected and be operational as a shared file storage server and be immediately available to a NT or Unix client, offering full security with features such as file locking and authorized access. As an added bonus these shared file storage servers will be available even when the server crashes.
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