Most business enterprises are more than familiar with the concept of hard disk storage, both of the internal and external varieties. Much less familiar is the term NAS, which refers to network attached storage. This structure also uses a hard drive, but in the case of NAS the drive is configured to interface with more than a single computer.
Network attached storage involves assigning a permanent network address to a drive so that users access it directly through the network without the necessity of connecting to a network server. This frees the drive from being reliant on the processing power of a given computer, which leads to faster file access to all users seeking to make use of the NAS resource. A typical configuration of NAS involves an ethernet connection between the drive and the network, with an IP address the most common way to identify the NAS resource to users on the network.
Additional Components of NAS
Strictly speaking, a NAS solution does not consist solely of a hard drive and ethernet cable. Also required is a software package capable of mapping file locations and handling other configuration issues. Sometimes, network attached storage is part of a larger and more complex storage solution known as a storage area network, or SAN.
Network Protocol Issues
NAS software is usually capable of interfacing with other networked devices using a variety of different protocols. One of the most common is the Internetwork Packet Exchange from Microsoft, and the Network File System used by Sun Microsystems.