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What are the key shared storage options available to SMBs/SMEs for document management?

My SMB/SME relies on direct-attached storage (DAS) systems for shared storage, but we need to carry out a document file digitisation project amounting to several terabytes. We have a mixed Linux, Unix and Windows environment. What are the key shared storage options available to SMBs/SMEs for document management?

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For a small- and medium-sized business (SMB) or small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) with cost considerations, an integrated iSCSI storage-area network (iSCSI SAN) product is an effective shared storage option for document management. An iSCSI SAN will provide ample performance for SMBs/SMEs with the right RAID level and number of aggregated network ports. iSCSI is also simple to use and allows the same switches to be deployed as in the rest of your network.

This could be fronted by a virtual machine (VM) running Samba, a Linux/Unix-based implementation of an SMB file-sharing protocol used by Windows that has no per-seat licensing costs and no restrictions to older file systems. A document management system, like KnowledgeTree or Alfresco, may also work for your needs.

These suggested software solutions are open source products with available enterprise-class support. The use of open source products keeps upfront costs low, provides lifetime upgrades and eliminates lock-in to the supplier, considerably reducing total cost of ownership (TCO).

Another option is to leverage open storage either by buying a system from Sun Microsystems (now owned by Oracle Corp.) or rolling out your own. Open storage systems are highly flexible and low cost, and often benefit from more advanced self-healing file systems such as the Zettabyte File System (ZFS). Adoption of these open technologies can bring your storage costs down while improving reliability and performance.

Learn more about data storage options for SMBs/SMEs with these related resources:

1. Learn about the differences between SMB data storage and enterprise data storage.

2. Discover the pros and cons of using removable disk storage for SMBs.

3. Find out how to develop a storage strategy for SMEs.

This was first published in February 2010

 

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