Stephen Bigelow at SearchStorage has a new NAS tip today titled Don't Let NAS Consolidation Impair Performance. It is a helpful guide to some lurking issues that storage managers occasionally overlook during consolidation projects. A few select quotes:
NAS upgrades are usually deployed to add capacity or performance to file-based storage. While it's easy to see any additional capacity, users often fail to consider the added performance requirements.
The problem is that some organizations add disks without considering the underlying performance needs.
Having fewer storage systems is usually a plus, but now more users are vying to access that one consolidated NAS box. This leads to contention, which can impair file-based storage performance. NAS upgrade plans should extend beyond the notion of capacity.
Clustered NAS systems do not necessarily provide more performance or scalability than nonclustered NAS platforms.
Stephen's points are spot on, particularly that clustered NAS systems do not necessarily provide more performance. This is a point we addressed in an earlier post titled Global Filesystems > Global Wait?
Stephen suggests that new NAS systems should include the right amount of connectivity and "internal disk controller architecture" to handle performance needs. This is one way to approach the problem.
Another way to boost performance during or after consolidation projects is to complement existing or new NAS systems with a scalable caching appliance such as CACHEfx from Gear6. CACHEfx applies to both traditional and clustered NAS solutions from every major NAS vendor. This approach enhances the installed environment with high-speed, high-capacity caching from memory, vastly improving performance compared to disk-only solutions.
We expect to see continued consolidation projects throughout 2008 driven by the need to reduce the overall storage footprint and associated power, space and cooling costs, as well as the virtualization projects that drive a rethinking of supporting storage infrastructure.
But consolidation comes with hidden consequences, including an impact to performance. Centralized storage caching with scalable caching appliances can deliver the extra performance boost needed for effective consolidation and cost-savings approaches without an impact to applications and user productivity.