Storage First Steps

Information types, availability, integrity, bandwidth, and sharing are the core competency of any digital organization. However, overseeing data storage management in an era of high-speed hardware obsolescence, while juggling budget, regulatory, and risk issues, is a tall order.

Questions to Ask

Most companies have different storage needs and are starting from different points. See the Storage Overview for some of the typical types of systems employed. However, there is some basic analysis that should be done before moving forward:

  • What kinds of systems and hardware do we have?
  • How is the quality of our data?
  • What is our current bandwidth?
  • Is it scalable?
  • How fast is our data required?
  • How long must it be retained?
  • What is the value of the data we are collecting?
  • Is there a way to categorize or segment the data?
  • Who owns what data?
  • What are the data growth trends so far?
  • What could be consolidated?
  • What could be automated?
  • Is our data secure, and is the recovery system in compliance with all relevant regulations?
  • Does our backup system provide fully recoverable data?

Choosing a Storage System


Direct-attached storage (DAS) is the most straightforward and low-cost level of storage. It has limited scalability, and is typically best for small companies doing local data sharing, such as email or file serving. Data accessibility is obviously dependent on the server being up, and not overloaded with database or email processing, and any added servers must be administered separately. Larger companies sometimes use DAS as well as NAS and SAN; occasionally placing the legacy DAS on the network using bridge devices or using it to store less critical data.


Companies with higher scalability requirements will find a better return on investment with a storage virtualization system such as Network Attached Storage (NAS) or a Storage Area Network (SAN) than with a DAS. Storage consolidation may be easier as multiple NAS systems can be centrally managed, and can serve files across all operating platforms. Wireless NAS could be in the future. NAS systems are also often included in a SAN.


While one of the most reliable systems for high volume, critical enterprise applications such as database, imaging, or transaction processing, SAN storage management software can be complex, and has some nagging standardization issues. Some IP SANs use Internet Protocol (IP) over Gigabit Ethernet, instead of Fibre Channel, which can decrease cost and suffer fewer interoperability challenges due to standardization issues.

Many companies consolidate block-level and file-level data with combination SAN/NAS systems. It all comes down to the processing and availability requirements of your data.

For more information on choosing the right solution for your company, read our Storage Overview.

Go to Bitpipe Research Guide: Storage.


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