Chapter 5. NAS Architecture

The growth of the network attached storage (NAS) industry caught many people by surprise. It appeared to be nothing new—simply repackaged NFS. How popular could that be? Many people laughed when someone suggested that you could put database files on a filer. However, anyone who is following the NAS industry will tell you that no one is laughing now. Believe it or not, such configurations are now commonplace and are even supported by some database vendors! What has made NAS so popular? This chapter answers that question, along with a few others:

  • What’s wrong with good old NFS and SMB?

  • How is NAS any different than NFS/CIFS?

  • Is it true that some filers are faster than local disk?

  • Which is better, NAS or SAN?

What’s Wrong with Standard NFS and CIFS?

As mentioned in Chapter 1, before NAS there was NFS and SMB (now referred to as CIFS). Large data centers usually had one or more dedicated Unix (NFS) and Windows (SMB) file servers, each of which served hundreds of thousands of files to hundreds of users. Although we didn’t know any better back then, there were a number of difficulties with such a configuration.


Many users needed to access files on both NFS and CIFS file servers. Some users even needed to access the same file with Unix-based applications andWindows-based applications. An example of such an application might be an engineering application that runs on Unix. Such an application might generate huge reports that could be stored as comma-separated ...

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