Storage solutions are ways to save or archive computer data in electromagnetic, optical, digital or other formats. Data may be stored on premises, on external drives, on remote devices, on removable media, or online (in the cloud). For large amounts of data, businesses often use storage area networks (SANs), network-attached storage (NAS) devices, software-defined storage (SDS), or cloud-based storage.
A SAN is a dedicated network that connects storage devices with servers. SANs provide block-level storage, typically via a Fibre Channel connection. A NAS device can be a purpose-built storage appliance or a general-purpose server running Windows or Linux. NAS devices provide file-level storage via a standard Ethernet connection. SDS is a virtualized network of storage resources that can use commodity hardware. Software-defined storage resources may be spread across multiple servers and pooled or shared as if they reside on one physical device. Cloud-based storage provides storage-as-a-service to multiple customers on demand.
SAN and NAS storage solutions require proprietary hardware, making them more expensive to scale than SDS or cloud-based solutions. Organizations that need to store large amounts of unstructured data (such as email messages, presentations, documents, graphics and media files) often use a software-defined storage solution to scale out storage capacity as needed. An SDS solution like SUSE Enterprise Storage provides unlimited scalability. It can run on Linux and in a virtual machine, on premises or in the cloud, using off-the-shelf hardware. This solution lowers both the initial capital expense as well as the cost of managing, scaling and upgrading data storage over time.