Storage Solutions: NAS, Server, or Cloud?


Cloud Storage Options
Cloud Server

This article is aimed at the small office scenario common to most small businesses and professional setups.

I’m assuming that there are a few computers on the network, if there is a network, and these are being used for maybe accounting software, office applications and perhaps software unique to the business (think software created to run a busy dental surgery). There comes a point in time eventually where the system you’re using suffers a slowdown in performance or perhaps fails completely. The disruption to business, not to mention the frustration of not being able to get work.

First a simple definition of the three technologies:

Cloud Storage Options - NAS Drive
A NAS Drive

NAS – Nas is short for Network Attached Storage and it works best when being used to store and retrieve files. The problem with NAS it that it’s best used to storage files not to collaborate on them. This means using software that allows for multiple users will more than likely not work with NAS. NAS doesn’t allow say, accountancy software like Quickbooks, run its multiple user version over the network, primarily because the software used to run a NAS drive is a customised version of the Linux open source operating system and has not been written for this system. This is not to say that NAS servers can’t run programs—many NAS vendors offer custom applications to extend the capabilities of their products, particularly on higher-end models.
The NAS can be setup to back up at regular intervals. One common practice is the setup of a NAS backup solution locally and another mirrored off site at the business owners house giving an effective, redundant backup solution for little money.

Cloud Storage Options - AppServer
A simple tower server used by by most small to mid sized companies.

Application Server – Also called an appserver, an application server is a program that handles all application operations between users and an organization’s back end business applications or databases. These most commonly include a program for handling file exchanging, collaboration and of course storage. The most common operating systems used in these servers are Microsoft Server or Linux. They provide the platform for your accounting, ERP, phone and email applications to be used by multiple users. They offer the greatest performance and reliability to users but may not be needed for much smaller business which has no need to collaborate. The rule of thumb as far as storage is concerned is if there is a need for multiple users to have access to anything (ERP, mail server etc.) other than files then an application server is the option.

Cloud Storage Options - Cloud Storage
We would never advise this…..just to be clear.

Cloud Storage – Like some of the collaboration services mentioned in the application server description, cloud storage acts in exactly the same way with your data being stored and retrieved from the ‘cloud’, which is usually a data centre located somewhere. The advantage of cloud storage is that it can be accessed anywhere on multiple device platforms.This form of storage has become routine for many tech savvy small business owners and professionals. The most common cloud file storage service in operation at the moment are the likes of Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft’s One Drive/365 . I’ve written about the security concerns of using Dropbox in business before and its unsuitability regarding security (Dropbox have since come out with Dropbox for Business which has addressed most of the concerns regarding encryption and administration).
There are solutions out there that offer higher security features and don’t cost an arm and a leg. The Microsoft 365 or Google Docs are two good cloud services geared towards the small business user offering business software with storage at a reasonable price.
As you can see there are multiple choices out there to choose from. It is all dependant on the needs storage of the business.
If you have any questions regarding any of the features I’ve talked about here or would like a talk about the various options available to you then please contact us here at Hybrid TP on 1800 911 000.
Stephen Hughes