Small Business Storage Dilemma

Small businesses looking to keep pace with the ever growing demand for network storage are faced with something of a Catch-22 situation. On the face of it, NAS (Network Attached Storage) would seem to be the most obvious solution, being both affordable and a lot easier to manage than conventional general purpose file servers. NAS appliances designed for smaller businesses, however, are strictly limited in terms of performance and scalability, plus they tend to lack a number of increasingly asked for optional extras. Things like iSCSI SAN (Storage Area Network) support, data snapshots, replication and encryption services, typically, only found on more costly and complicated enterprise-level products.

So, should small company buyers compromise and stick with simple NAS or go for broke with an enterprise storage solution that may be more than they can handle or need?

The answer is neither, as there is another way. Small businesses should look at the ShareCenter Pro 1550, an affordable and easy to manage storage appliance from D-Link, designed specifically to bridge the gap between these two extremes.

A NAS file server and more

A 1U rack-mount appliance the ShareCenter Pro 1550 has four hot-swappable drive bays which, when fitted with industry standard SATA disks, enable it to support up to 12TB of RAID protected storage. Equipped with a dual-core processor, 2GB of memory and dual Gigabit ports as standard the D-Link appliance can then share that storage using file-level protocols on mixed Windows, Apple and Linux networks.

Management is via an easy to use Web interface, just as on other small business solutions. However, that’s not all, with a number of additional features and technologies bundled as standard on the ShareCenter Pro 1550 which make it stand out from the competition.

A unified solution

To begin with the ShareCenter Pro 1550 is unified storage solution that, in addition to file-level NAS supports block-level access to shared storage using the iSCSI protocol. With multipath I/O (MPIO) and LUN-masking also built-in, this enables storage volumes defined on the appliance to be connected to servers over the network rather than having to install disks locally. With no need for a specialised SAN infrastructure this can be a real bonus, making for much more flexible provisioning of storage, for example on database and email servers, with centralised backup and disaster recovery to boot.

More than that, the D-Link appliance allows instant data snapshots to be taken via the management console to allow for rapid rollback in the event of a problem rather than have to recover data from a backup. Up to 32 snapshots can be taken, something few other vendors support on this class of appliance with those that do charging extra for the privilege.

The ShareCenter Pro 1550 can also connect to other iSCSI storage targets and use them as virtual disks to expand the available storage capacity - again, not something commonly found on this class of product.

A robust solution

While most small business storage appliances have just one power supply, the ShareCenter Pro 1550 has two redundant supplies to keep it working even if one fails. It also benefits from USB ports for UPS protection and two Gigabit Ethernet connections for maximum network availability. RAID protection, naturally, comes as standard plus a unique technology called Predictive Data Migration (PDM) to continually monitor the disks in the appliance and, if a fault is detected, move data to a healthy drive to ensure continuity.

D-Link also recognises the importance of backup. As well as the snapshot facility, backups can be taken to external drives, other storage appliances or even the cloud giving small businesses the equivalent of offsite backup at minimal cost. Added to which there’s support for continual remote replication of data to another appliance or the cloud, yet another enterprise level option made available in an easy to manage format on the D-Link appliance.

A green and pleasant solution

Lastly it’s worth noting that the ShareCenter Pro 1550 is still frugal when it comes to energy consumption, with 80 Plus certified power supplies and the option for scheduled power-off as standard. Add to which it uses a technology known as Massive Array of Idle Disks (MAID 2.0) to achieve significant power savings by automatically switching off disks not in active use, allowing it to run cooler and at a reduced operating cost.

And despite a wealth of high-end enterprise functionality not found on competitive products the ShareCenter Pro 1550 is still an affordable and easy to manage small business solution. A solution  that can be deployed and exploited without the need for specialist IT knowledge, to service the storage needs of a wide range of small businesses, their users and mission critical applications.