Scale out NAS Storage VS Legacy NAS Systems

The evolution of enterprise data centers made legacy NAS systems obsolete or irrelevant. This created a hole that could only be filled with high-performance, flexible, and scale-out file storage systems. Enter Scale out NAS. These storage systems could scale horizontally as well as vertically thereby increasing not just storage capacity but also performance.
The concept of vertical scaling is as old as NAS Storage Systems are, so we will not explain what vertical scaling is and will only cover horizontal scaling in this blog.

What is Horizontal Scalability?

By horizontally scalable, we mean that we can keep on adding more and more nodes to the cluster, to the left or to the right and even then it remains a single system. One system to manage, one system to monitor, and one system to upgrade is much simpler than having seven individual systems to manage for example.
Scale out NAS systems also often support a single massive namespace or file system. It is not uncommon for a scale out NAS system to support file systems that are multiple Terabytes or even Petabytes in size. Did you know Stonefly NAS systems give you the same experience? For more information, click here.

Traditional vs Scale out NAS Storage Systems

This ability to offer petabytes of storage capacity and pool multiple nodes under a global namespace is in stark contrast to many of the traditional NAS systems that require multiple smaller file systems per NAS array. For instance, if you think you’ve got hundreds of NAS arrays and each NAS array has got multiple file systems, then if you thought you had NAS sprawl, your file system sprawl is even worse.

What does Horizontal Scalability do to the Infrastructure?

Global namespace simplifies management and this horizontal scalability leads to improved performance and the consequent productivity of the infrastructure as a whole. It does this by parallelizing workloads over multiple components.
It therefore parallelizes work over multiple nodes. In effect, the cluster is a single large resource, a single pool of CPU, RAM, Disk, and everything.

How Scale out NAS Storage Helps Managers?

On the management front, scale out NAS can help avoid some of your potential NAS sprawls. Where you might start out with let’s say a couple of NAS arrays, fall in love with them, and before you know it, you’ve got hundreds of them. Once you’ve got this many, it’s just as easy to quickly fall out of love with them.
Scale out NAS helps here by being massively horizontally scalable with a global namespace.
For example, we start out with one NAS system and then just keep on adding more and more NAS arrays to it.
Let us say that now we have got seven NAS arrays, each with its own disc, its own network ports, its own CPU, and RAM. But because these are part of a scale out NAS system, they all form a single cluster. This cluster is managed as a single entity and is horizontally scalable. So, compared to the previous NAS system is easier to manage, has better performance due to aggregated workloads and there are no bottlenecks, suffice to say life is happier and easier for IT managers.


Scale out NAS storage is effective not just in terms of providing scalability to the infrastructure but also in keeping it simple to manage by maintaining the single cluster configuration, regardless of additional nodes. This avoids the side effects of becoming scalable to a larger extent as it remains simple and easy to manage, and at the same time is capable of handling large volumes of data.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button