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The first decision you need to make when planning your storage solution for Windows Small Business Server is really made when you specify your main server. If your budget can afford it, you should definitely consider choosing a hardware RAID solution that lets you add disks “on the fly” and reconfigure the array without powering down the server or rebooting. This is absolutely the best and most flexible storage solution for protecting your data, and could take the form of hot-swappable SCSI hard drives, or even a Storage Area Network (SAN). None of the possible solutions comes cheap, and in most cases you need to make at least some portion of the decision as part of the original server purchase.
Network Attached Storage
Although most hardware storage solutions require you to make decisions very early in the buying process, a growing number of Network Attached Storage (NAS) solutions can provide a cost effective way to increase the storage flexibility of your Windows Small Business Server network. When these NAS solutions are based on Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2003, they support all the features of Windows Small Business Server and will easily integrate into your Windows Small Business Server network. For more on Windows Storage Server 2003 powered NAS servers, see http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/wss2003.
Once the server is actually in place and is being used, you can’t really make a change to the underlying hardware that would allow you to use a hardware RAID solution—at least not easily. But you can use the built-in facilities of Windows Small Business Server to make your existing disk subsystem more fault-tolerant by using dynamic disks and the software RAID of Windows Small Business Server as described in “RAID-5 Volumes” later in the chapter.
If you’re reading this chapter before you buy your server, congratulations on being a thorough person. If not, some of these decisions have already been made, but you may well find that you will have to add storage. If you do, you’ll want to focus on storage solutions designed and optimized for servers—a very different set of needs from the typical workstation. Your choices are:
Integrated Device Electronics (IDE) Primarily a client solution. Inexpensive, but not really best on a server.
Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (ATA) A way to take IDE to the server level. Very promising, but still very new and relatively more expensive.
Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) Perfect for servers and high-end workstations, but significantly more expensive than IDE. Ability to have up to 13 drives per SCSI channel.
Internet SCSI (iSCSI) The next wave, but not there yet.
FireWire Hot-pluggable, fast, and appropriate for a lower-end server. But still more expensive than IDE.
Universal Serial Bus (USB) Only appropriate if you use USB 2.0. Good for CD and DVD drives. Hot pluggable. Not really a server product for storage.
Fiber Channel Great if you have large amounts of money to spend.
Network Attached Storage (NAS) A good way to provide large amounts of storage that can be flexible to meet your needs. Specify Windows Storage Server 2003–based NAS for the greatest flexibility and compatibility.
Storage Area Networks (SAN) Faster and more robust than the typical NAS, but also much more expensive and difficult to configure.
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