The synchronization of data between two NAS appliances across the network is a more advanced feature that is currently gaining traction. For example, Iomega claims that the recently announced StorCenter ix2 NAS supports easy-to-set-up, device-to-device data replication over the network. This essentially allows SMBs to create a private cloud by deploying two NAS appliances at different locations. Of course, the actual feasibility of a replication across a WAN will vary depending on a number of factors, including its importance to the individual business, the amount of data to be replicated and the cost of bandwidth. Nevertheless, it offers a glimpse of a capability that was once in the sole domain of the most expensive SANs.
Finally, NAS vendors have also started adding support for online storage services, with mature cloud services such as Amazon S3 being the most commonly supported platforms. As with everything stored in the cloud, the onus is on individual businesses to exercise the appropriate caution to ensure that all uploaded data are encrypted. Given the fickleness of an Internet connection, cloud storage should never be the sole backup target due to the potential inability to meet the recovery time objective when attempting a disaster recovery.
IP camera support
While an IP camera is not a major capability by itself, some NAS vendors have started incorporating support for the feature into their appliances. Given its ample storage capacity, the NAS is indeed ideally suited for storing the large amount of data generated by a typical network-attached camera. Do note that features such as the actual supported frame rate, camera count and maximum supported resolution can vary widely across NAS brands or even models. Similar variations are found in related capabilities such as camera management and the ease with which captured video footage can be reviewed. If support for a particular model of IP camera is important, make sure to discuss it directly with the vendor prior to making a purchase. Note that additional licensing costs may apply for each IP camera.
Businesses are unlikely to select a NAS based on the possibility of future software upgrades. Given the complexity of the modern NAS appliance, however, it may be reassuring to know if a vendor has a track record of releasing security patches to resolve the inevitable bugs, or even occasional feature updates. Fortunately, this can be determined relatively quickly by visiting a vendor's website and checking out its product support page. Indeed, some NAS vendors such as Synology have been known to release regular and fairly significant updatesÂat no cost.
Paul Mah is a freelance writer and blogger who lives in Singapore. You can reach Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @paulmah.
Read more about storage in CIO's Storage Drilldown.