Servers & Systems: The Right Compute

The year of direct attached storage (DAS): deciphering your ideal storage ecosystem

Hero-Title image_blog_.pngChoosing the right server storage environment is crucial.  While some enterprises truly need the most resource-intensive technology, others know how to operate at maximum efficiency and minimum cost.

I can’t stand paying for what I don’t need. Like that hunk of wires, weights, and metal arms advertised as a “personal gym” that I purchased, when I really only use the dumbbells I’ve had since college.—Okay, I don’t use those either. Well, with all the technological advances in server storage technology over the past decade, I’ve noticed customers are doing the same thing with their IT budget.

It’s tempting to do so. Your server storage environment is crucial to ensuring your business can complete complex tasks, leverage big data, and ensure scalability. Some enterprises truly need the most resource-intensive technology to operate. Still, others are scrappier with their IT setup and know how to operate at maximum efficiency and minimum cost. These latter companies are why 2019 will be the year of DAS.Blog 5 - DAS image.png

Direct Attach Storage (DAS)

If you've been tidying up Marie Kondo or watching "Hoarders", you know the value of simplicity and efficiency. So consider the most popular, but straightforward storage option: DAS. These drive attach directly to the server (Who says technologists can't name things creatively?) for incredibly high performance. Without having to jump through an obstacle course of fiber cables, switch boxes and high latency ethernet cables, DAS lets you read and write data rapidly and efficiently. It's a huge budget-saver, too. You won't need a whole team of IT experts to install and maintain DAS, and the hardware itself is low cost, especially considering the high performance you'll receive.

DAS can also be improved by hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). This infrastructure helps DAS run smoothly, eliminating the need for provisioning, and has performance benefits to boot. HCI is effective for small to midsize businesses that want to reap the full benefits of, and avoid the downside of, virtualization.

But DAS isn't the only storage solution out there. There are two other ways to set-up your storage environment. They come at a higher cost and complexity, and deliver their fair share of advantages for certain businesses.

Network Attached StorageBlog 5 - NAS image.png

NAS is ideal for start-ups with high-growth potential. This set-up dedicates a seperate server for file sharing through a network. Essentially all of a company's servers are connected to the server through ethernet cables. While NAS supports higher, multi-drive workloads and connects multiple users in an environment, it also suffers from latency issues and transfers files less efficiently than its counterparts, for example file-level transfers versus block-level transfer. Its a very flexible option perfect for a narrow set of scenarios, yet it has neither the efficiency of DAS nor the enterprise-level fortitude of SAN.

Storage Attached Networks (SAN)

This is your third server storage setup option and it’s only appropriate for large enterprise environments. There’s no doubt, Storage Area Networks are highly advanced. They combine the speed of DAS with the file sharing, flexibility, and reliability of NAS. Through a complex infrastructure of SAN switches, disk controllers, Host Bus Adapters (HBA), and fiber cables, it provides high-speed storage that can be accessed at the block-level by numerous servers. If you’re running complex applications that need high scalability, Storage Area Networks are an appropriate choice. And, if you’re serious about not paying for what you don’t need, try a hyperconverged DAS infrastructure. It will allow you to scale to a certain point and reduce the high cost of IT support and hardware associated with SAN.

For businesses that need to make an impact now, with a limited budget and IT resources, and who care first and foremost about their server’s storage performance, Direct Attached Storage is a perfect option.

And — for those certain individuals who have neglected their waistlines—those dumbbells are still in the garage, free for the asking. First come, first served!

This is the 4th article in Cole's series on server storage from HPE. To read the other articles in the series, please see below.

Old school vs. new school -- When should you choose hard drive vs. SSDs?

6 Reasons Why Server Storage Drives Are Not All Equal 

What are RAID levels, and which are best for you?

SATA vs SAS vs NVMe?  Making Sense of Storage Interfaces

Upcoming topics include:

Fortify Your Server Storage with Controller-Based Encryption

Storage Market research survey results

Cole Humphreys
Hewlett Packard Enterprise

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About the Author


Cole leads Global Cyber Security Product Management at HPE with responsibility for the security features and technologies embedded within HPE’s compute portfolio.