Understanding the Three Common Storage Architecture Types

Posted by Josh Moss, xByte Solutions Architect on Aug 31, 2023

Understanding the Three Common Storage Architecture Types

With so many enterprise-level storage solutions available, how do you know which one is right for you?

From on-premises storage to the cloud, the combination of both, and all possible configurations, the options can seem endless. Let’s look at the three common storage architecture types:

Local Storage

Local storage refers to the physical devices directly attached to servers. This architecture is designed to provide efficient and reliable storage solutions for vast amounts of data.

Key Characteristics of Local Storage Architecture:

  • Storage Devices: These are the physical devices/hardware where data is stored. This can include HDDs and SSDs. The storage device is connected to the server and includes external, direct-attached storage enclosures.
  • Server Nodes: A server among multiple servers, that has its own processing power and local storage. Each node is interconnected and works to provide various services and applications.
  • Redundancy and RAID: Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) involves combining multiple storage devices into arrays to improve performance and create redundancy in cases of drive failures.
  • Storage Controllers: Hardware components responsible for managing the attached storage devices such as data reading/writing, data caching, and managing RAID configurations.

SAN-NAS Storage

SAN (Storage Area Network) and NAS (Network Attached Storage) are two distinct architectures used for managing and accessing data storage in IT environments. Both SAN and NAS systems are designed to enhance data storage, retrieval, and management capabilities, but they differ in their underlying technologies and use cases.

Key Characteristics of SAN Architecture:

  • Block-Level Access: SAN provides block-level access to storage resources. It treats storage devices as raw disks, allowing servers to read and write data at the block level. The operating system of the server manages file systems and data structures.
  • Fibre Channel or iSCSI: SANs commonly use protocols like Fibre Channel (FC) or iSCSI to establish connections between servers and storage devices. Fibre Channel provides high-speed, low-latency connections, while iSCSI uses standard Ethernet networks.
  • High Performance: SANs are designed for high performance and low latency. They are suitable for applications that require access to storage at a low level, such as databases or virtual machine storage.
  • Centralized Management: SANs offer centralized management capabilities, allowing administrators to allocate and manage storage resources from a single console.

Key Characteristics of NAS Architecture:

  • File-Level Access: NAS provides file-level access to storage resources. It presents storage as shared folders or directories that users and applications can access over the network using standard file protocols such as NFS (Network File System) or SMB/CIFS (Server Message Block / Common Internet File System).
  • Ethernet Connectivity: NAS devices connect to the network using standard Ethernet interfaces. This makes NAS easier to integrate into existing networks and allows for simplified management and scalability.
  • Simplicity and Convenience: NAS is known for its ease of use and setup. It's suitable for scenarios where multiple users or systems need shared access to files, such as for file sharing, media storage, or backup.
  • Distributed Storage Management: Each NAS device typically manages its own storage, which can be a drawback for large-scale environments requiring centralized storage management.

Converged and HyperConverged Storage

Converged and HyperConverged Storage Architectures are designed to streamline and simplify the deployment, management, and scalability of computing, storage and networking resources. Both architectures combine these components in a cohesive manner, but they differ in terms of their level of integration and management.

Converged Storage Architecture integrates computing, storage, and networking components into a single pre-configured system or appliance.

Key Characteristics of Converged Storage Architecture:

  • Pre-Integrated Systems: Converged systems come pre-assembled and pre-configured.
  • Unified Management: Converged systems often have a single management interface that allows admins to control and monitor compute, storage, and networking resources from a centralized dashboard.
  • Scalability: To scale, it usually involves adding more pre-configured appliances.
  • Reduced Complexity: Converged systems reduce the complexity of planning, deploying, and managing separate components.

HyperConverged Storage integrates all computing, storage, and networking resources within a single software-defined infrastructure. In HyperConverged systems, individual hardware nodes work together to create a virtualized pool of resources.

Key Characteristics of HyperConverged Storage Architecture:

  • Software-Defined Infrastructure: Hardware resources are abstract and managed through software-defined solutions. This allows for more dynamic allocation and efficient use of resources.
  • Distributed Storage: Storage is distributed across all nodes, creating a shared storage pool that can be easily managed and scaled.
  • Scalability: HyperConverged systems are designed to easily scale. When more resources are needed, admins can easily add new nodes to the cluster.
  • Integrated Virtualization: Systems with built-in virtualization capabilities make it easy to deploy and manage virtual machines and appliances.
  • Simplified Management: HyperConverged systems provide a single management interface for all aspects of the infrastructure, offering a unified view of resources.

Your data is important, therefore how and where you store that data can be critical to your business. Schedule a call with an xByte Dell certified architect to discuss your storage needs and design a custom solution. Email  [email protected] or call 888-929-8348.