Network Attached Storage (NAS) is a smart, dedicated data storage system that connects to storage drives and over a given home or office network, allowing multiple users to collaborate and share data. I was in conversation with Veniamin Simonov, Director of Product Management at Nakivo, who shed some light on the space and what the company is doing to innovate here.
Veniamin Simonov, Nakivo
NAS is designed primarily for handling unstructured data including MS Office documents, text files, audio, video, etc. Based on drive capacity, NAS devices support and drive scalability across all business sizes ranging from home users to the ones that fall under the high-end enterprise category. In this post, we will discuss in detail about NAS devices, their pitfalls, and the importance of NAS data backup solutions.
While NAS serves organizations of all sizes, its popularity is more widespread among large businesses that generate huge volumes of data. These companies have employees working remotely and NAS ensures they have real-time access to this data.
“Essentially, any company with a remote office setup will probably use NAS file shares… the use of NAS for virtualization networks and long-term archival are reasonably common use cases.” - Veniamin Simonov, Director of Product Management, Nakivo
Organizations deploying big data and AI/ML related applications also generate massive volumes of data and offer the second-most widespread use case for NAS systems. Here it can help improve the efficiency of their systems by facilitating the quick movement of this data from one computer to the other. NAS devices are also being widely used in post-production and in processing video surveillance footage with high capacity storage requirements.
Unstructured data is known to expand and go off-limits. To accommodate for it, NAS devices allow for storing hundreds of terabytes of data. According to Simonov, the recently released Nakivo NAS Backup solution has been designed keeping this in mind, as with it, businesses can back up and recover as much data as they need.
One of the most common causes of data loss in NAS systems is improper and faulty setup. Data can be easily corrupted and lost when being shared across a poorly configured network or deleted when permissions aren’t defined correctly. For securing their data, businesses must also ensure file shares are end-to-end encrypted as it can become a weak spot for ransomware attacks.
“File shares are a primary target of ransomware attacks as they contain valuable and sensitive business data. While NAS are highly reliable devices, they too can fail, leading to massive data loss” - Veniamin Simonov, Director of Product Management, Nakivo
The consequences of data loss can vary depending on what kind of data was lost and how. On a good day, it will involve attempting to restore internal data and succeeding, if not, the organization may have to deal with various legal repercussions for violating industry regulations.
The primary demand for NAS backup systems stems from the need to transfer massive volumes of data efficiently. So, organizations must verify that the solution at hand can meet the demand of processing the large amounts of data they generate and share. An ideal NAS backup solution must take into account that unstructured data grows exponentially and thus offer the much-required scalability to automatically backup newly introduced data while avoiding redundancy in storing and transferring data blocks.
Data recovery is yet another feature that must be duly considered in the case of NAS backup solutions. In most cases of data loss or corruption, companies try to retrieve only some specific files.
“My advice is to check a solution’s granular recovery functionality to help optimize resource utilization and save time. Also, In case a version of the data item in a specific time period is needed - for instance, to comply with regulations - check the retention capabilities of the solution.” - Veniamin Simonov, Director of Product Management, Nakivo
Furthermore, businesses should prioritize solutions with features such as incremental backup, compression, and automation so they can efficiently process and store large volumes of data. Support for other platforms and workloads is also a nifty feature to look for.
The NAS data backup process is just as prone to cyber attacks as the data itself. The means to securing the data are achieved through traditional means such as offsite storage and encrypting it when sharing over the network. On the other hand the backup process can be secured through multi-factor authentication.
“...[Securing file share backups] is achieved by protecting the backup operations with two-factor authentication and configuring permissions according to user roles and responsibilities.” - Veniamin Simonov, Director of Product Management, Nakivo
It goes without saying that a firewall is part of a standard security strategy and must be implemented as it allows businesses to filter traffic to their NAS.
Estimating data volume to be processed is the standard model for pricing NAS backup solutions. This allows organizations to scale according to their requirements and eliminate unnecessary costs. Subscription-based and perpetual licences are fairly common pricing models. While in the former, the companies pay for every workload, the latter allows them to backup the required data volume indefinitely.
NAS is getting wildly popular as its servers allow access to company data 24x7. While it also serves as a go-to choice for organizations looking to back up their data, it’s highly recommended to have an adequate backup strategy along with a NAS system. Efficiency in data archival and flexibility in backing up file shares are some of the non-negotiables when it comes to getting a NAS backup software. Data protection against ransomware attacks and ability to orchestrate disaster recovery are some of the other features that all organizations should consider.