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In the past NAS boxes were more a glorified external hard drives that had network compatibilities. These were nice devices since you can share them out amongst the network users or use them as a backup solution for various machines or servers on the network. They were popular but never really took root as a sole back end server for a business.

I think for IT consultants we easily realized that a single drive storage device to be used as the back end for your business was a risky proposition. Here is a list of potential pitfalls for a simple NAS (Network Storage Device).

  1. Lack of backup solution for it
  2. Notorious for breaking down
  3. No RAID configuration, or if there was RAID configuration the cost was much higher
  4. No way to determine if there were any problems with it, it seem like they worked or be completely non-functional
  5. No way to install an application which are needed for server-client applications

Things have evolved… now NAS device are definitely more intelligent. For example a ReadyNAS Pro from Netgear can hold 2 – 3 drive in a RAID 1 or 5 configuration; it has a intelligent schedule backup capability where you can attach an external hard drive to it; lastly it has ways to install designated applications called add-ons that can allow it to sync up to the cloud (such as Egnyte) and even run Tivo.

In certain small company situations, I can see this become a strong candidate as their back end file server. This is especially true in the advent of hosted Exchange setups where that portion of an office system can be set offsite. I can easily see how these sorts of devices can become a standard for smaller organizations.