What is NAS (Network Attached Storage) and why is NAS Important?

It is accepted that data is a critical asset for companies

Without access to their corporate data, companies may not be capable of serving their customers with the expected level of service. Poor customer service, loss of sales, or even business liquidation can be the result of corporate information not being available.

But it is equally true that in most businesses, the focus is not on the storage, but on the applications that consume it. Additionally, small businesses find themselves faced with other demands such as:

  • Simplified operation (many small businesses do not have IT staff)
  • Accessibility, reliability and availability of applications and systems for day-to-day operations
  • Easy to use security, backup and recovery to protect application data
  • Availability of a wide range of applications to support their business needs

What is Network Attached Storage (NAS)?

The SNIA Dictionary defines NAS as:

A term used to refer to storage devices that connect to a network and provide file access services to computer systems. These devices generally consist of an engine that implements the file services, and one or more devices, on which data is stored. NAS uses file access protocols such as NFS or CIFS.

Designers of software applications suited to smaller business environments tend to use file-based systems to meet these goals, particularly those of flexibility, simplicity and ease of management; and there are a wide variety of easy-to-use tools to provide security, and robust backup & recovery.

NAS systems are popular with enterprise and small businesses in many industries as effective, scalable and low-cost storage solutions. They can be used to support email systems, accounting databases, payroll, video recording and editing, data logging, business analytics and more; a wide variety of other business applications are underpinned by NAS systems.

Given the flexibility and popularity of NAS systems, most cloud providers offer NAS services; that makes it possible to mix and match NAS storage systems and cloud services in a business, allowing the potential of optimizing cost, management effort and performance while giving the business complete control over location and security.

Some of the benefits of NAS include:

  • Simple to operate; a dedicated IT professional is generally not required
  • Lower cost; can significantly reduce wasted space over other storage technologies like SAN
  • Easy data backup and recovery, with granular security features
  • Centralization of data storage in a safe, reliable way for authorised network users and clients
  • Supports a large variety of applications
  • Permits data access across the network, including cloud based applications and data

With a NAS, data is continually accessible, making it easy for corporate teams to collaborate, respond to customers in a timely fashion, and to improve data management and security because information is in one place. Additionally, because NAS is like a private cloud – and the same services can be made available in the cloud -- data may be accessed remotely using a network connection, meaning employees and applications can work anywhere, anytime.


Learn more about fundamental storage networking topics: