As our data continues to grow at a nearly exponential clip, storage vendors have responded with ever cheaper and more capable products. But the push for higher capacity and lower prices has muddied the waters.
Not long ago, if you were buying a multiterabyte storage device, it would almost definitely have been a highly reliable, high-performance, enterprise-class SAN. Today, you can jam that same amount of storage into a tower desktop for a tiny fraction of the cost. As a result, many storage products are being marketed as "SAN" storage when they aren't much better than a desktop in terms of performance and reliability.
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More than ever, it's important to have a solid understanding of what forms primary storage can take and what differentiates them. In rough terms, the primary storage ladder can be broken down into six distinctive rungs. Who you are and what you do will determine your best option.
The concept of peer-to-peer primary storage should be familiar to just about anyone who owns a computer. Essentially, each user's workstation stores his or her own data. In the event that data needs to be shared, technology built into the operating system allows others to see that data. It's cheap and incredibly simple.
For individuals and very small businesses, this is often the best option. Given that there are over 5 million businesses in the United States alone with less than 10 employees, peer-to-peer storage makes up a huge percentage of all data storage. But as a business grows, managing multiple, unreliable islands of storage can become increasingly difficult. Most desktop operating systems also don't offer much in the way of unified security, so this model is difficult to support securely beyond a few users.