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What are Rugged NAS (Networked Attached Storage) Systems?

Premio Buying Guide: Rugged NAS (Network Attached Storage) Systems

In this buying guide, we will provide you with everything you need to know about rugged NAS (Network Attached Storage) solutions as well as where you can buy them. 

What are Rugged NAS Systems? 

Rugged NAS systems are purpose-built industrial-grade computers that are designed to serve as data storage servers. This provides clients with quick and convenient access to their files from a centralized location. NAS solutions consist of several hard drives (HDDs) or solid-state drives (SSDs) for expansive storage capacity. Rugged NAS storage systems have surged in popularity because of their convenience and rapid data processing speeds over a network. NAS systems are flexible and can be easily scaled with additional drives when needed. This operates similarly to having a private cloud within your organization or business, except it is significantly more cost efficient and provides additional control over who has access to stored data. 

How Can Rugged Edge Computing Benefit from Rugged NAS Computer Hardware? 

Rugged edge computing can benefit from rugged NAS computer hardware because it provides plenty of storage at the edge, close to the source of data generation. As the number of IoT devices continues to increase, so does the data generated by such devices. Edge computers are deployed at the edge to alleviate the burden placed on data centers; however, devices often do not have the storage capacity to store all the generated data. The availability of rugged NAS storage solutions brings plenty of data storage to the edge close to the source of data generation, enabling organizations to store all of their valuable data on rugged NAS solutions and access it rapidly when needed. 

What are Rugged NAS Systems used for? 

There are a few key applications where rugged NAS systems excel and provide the necessary performance needed: 

  • In-Vehicle (ADAS and Autonomous Vehicle Training) 
  • Mission Recorder 
  • Security & Surveillance 
  • Industrial Automation 
  • Machine Vision 
  • Additional Storage to Existing Solutions 
  • And more

One major edge computing application where rugged NAS systems shines is in the vehicular sector. Autonomous Vehicles and ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) generate an enormous amount of data that can be reviewed and improved. Rugged NAS Systems are capable of processing and storing all this data for future insights/analysis and bettering vehicular AI. These systems are built rugged to withstand the harsh conditions when installed in-vehicle like shock and vibration, varying temperatures, and more.  

How are NAS Systems built for Edge Computing? 

Edge computing requires localized systems to be ruggedized so it can deliver reliable performance in harsh environments. Rugged NAS Systems are purpose-built to deliver additional data storage capacity to Edge applications. There are six features within rugged NAS Systems that allow them to remain reliable in challenging environments. 

1. Robust and fanless design

The ruggedization of NAS systems starts with a unique encasing that acts as a hardened shell and a heatsink. The robust fully-enclosed finned case is made of aluminum and heavy-duty metals to protect vital internal components. The shell also acts as a heatsink as it has built-in copper pipes and a finned structure to quickly dissipate heat generated from the components. NAS systems are passively cooled which means it also follows a fanless design. Computers that use active cooling, or fanned cooling, introduce dust, debris, and even contaminants that build up within the system. This results in mandatory maintenance routines and is unsustainable at the rugged edge. The elimination of fans from our fully-enclosed rugged NAS solutions protect the system from the ingress of these fine particles, enhances reliability, and most importantly 

2. Wide operating temperature range

Rugged Network Attached Storage Solutions come equipped with a wide operating temperature range, from -25⁰C to 70⁰C, permitting deployment in environments that experience extremely cold and extremely hot temperatures. NAS solutions will operate reliably and optimally, providing uninterrupted access to your files and data no matter the temperature condition. 

3. Shock and vibration resistance

In some deployments or applications, rugged NAS systems can undergo frequent shock and vibration. Premio’s rugged NAS servers are MIL-STD-810G rated to solidify its durability in deployments with shock and vibration. What makes our rugged NAS systems MIL-STD-810G? The NAS system is built with a cableless design to be sustainable in these environments. This design eliminates the chances of cables unsocketing from vibration/shock, further enhancing its reliability at the rugged edge. In addition to following a cableless design, the utilization of SSDs (solid-state drives) delivers even greater resistance to shock and vibration. Traditional HDDs read and write data with a spinning platter that is sensitive to movement. Sudden jolts can cause scratches to the platter, resulting in corrupt files or even system failure. SSDs have NAND chips to process data storage and even offer NVMe for extremely rapid read/write speeds. The lack of moving parts in an SSD allows it to withstand frequent vibration and shock, making it perfect for rugged NAS solution deployments. 

4. Processing Power

Not only are rugged NAS systems built for reliability and extreme durability, but it is also required to deliver high-performance compute to the edge. These systems are equipped with a versatile range of processors, from an entry-level Intel Celeron for more simplified tasks to Intel Core or even sever-grade XEON processors for more demanding tasks such as AI inferencing and machine learning. CPUs are one of the primary components that generate a great deal of heat. By utilizing TDP (Thermal Design Power) and efficient passive cooling from the hardened shell, heat is effectively managed and mitigated away from the system and dissipated into the surrounding air. 

5. Connectivity and Link Aggregation

Rugged NAS Systems are built for several applications that need both high-performance and durability. These applications require specific ports that may be crucial to their deployments, like M12 waterproof locking connectors or PoE connectivity. Expansion brackets provide additional I/O to NAS systems and further flexibility with a selection of Universal I/O modules: 

  • USB 3.2 Gen 1 
  • GbE/PoE M12 
  • 10 GbE RJ45 
  • GbE/PoE RJ45 
  • Dual-SIM 5G 

These modules bring ease to I/O compatibility and allow multiple IoT devices to simultaneously connect to a single unit. PoE or Power Over Ethernet allows IoT devices to be both powered and relay data without the need for two cables. Additionally, link aggregation can be utilized for enhanced bandwidth and reliability. This is extremely useful for NAS systems as there are less cables to work with and ensures that the IoT devices are compatible with the system. 

Premio Rugged NAS System RCO-6000-CML-4NH Feature Diagram

What Types of Storage Devices Do Rugged NAS Computer Support? 

The types of storage devices supported by rugged NAS PCs include SATA, SAS, and NVMe. We will discuss each of these in more detail directly below: 

1. SATA

SATA, also known as Serial ATA, is a computer bus interface that connects a computer’s motherboard to mass storage devices such as HDDs (hard drives), SSDs (solid-state drives), and optical drives. Most devices currently support SATA III, which has a maximum theoretical data transfer speed of up to 6 Gigabits per second. Although SATA is a well-established storage protocol, it requires an interface controller, which can bottleneck data transfer speeds. NVMe is a technology that solves this bottleneck by providing even greater data transfers speeds. 

2. SAS

SAS have a much higher data transfer rate with theoretical speeds up to 12 Gbps. This is double the speeds of SATA, however, SAS are more expensive, utilize more power, and typically have less storage capacity. Why don't we see SAS being used in NAS systems? SAS are typically used for data-center applications and are not built for edge applications. SAS drives utilize a disk platter to quickly read and write data at extremely fast speeds any vibrations can cause detrimental damage to the drive and can result in system failure. 

3. NVMe

Non-Volatile Memory Express, or NVMe is a modern technology built to address the previously mentioned bottlenecks that SATA interfaces encounter. NVMe takes advantage of the PCIe bus instead of SATA to deliver an enormous amount of bandwidth to storage devices. Unlike SATA, which caps at 6 Gbps, NVMe offers theoretical data speeds of 32 Gbps (using PCIe Gen 4). These speeds achieve real-time data analysis and insights for numerous applications. AI, for example, use NVMe technology to store the vast amounts of data generated and process the data to make real-time decisions at the edge. NVMe is offered in a variety of form factors, including SSDs, M.2 cards, PCIe add-in cards, and other forms. As we transition into Industry 4.0, it is highly likely that NVMe will become an industry standard. 

Premio SATA vs SAS vs NVMe Data Transfer Speeds Diagram

Does NAS Systems support RAID? 

Because NAS systems manage multiple storage devices at the rugged edge, it is no doubt that it will support RAID. Data loss and corruption can lead to detrimental downtime and worst of all system failure. Maintenance is costly and downtimes causes delays, losses in traffic, sales, and production. Redundant Array of Independent Disks, or RAID, safeguards valuable data and utilizes data loss prevention technologies to improve data storage reliability. RAID also connects multiple storage devices together to increase processing performance and storage capacity. There are a few RAID configurations that end users can choose to best suit their application: RAID 1 (mirroring), RAID 5 (striping with parity), RAID 6 (striping with double parity), and RAID 10 (mirroring and striping). Learn more about each RAID configurations here >> 

NAS Storage vs. Cloud Storage 

When deciding between NAS storage or Cloud storage for your organization, there are a few key factors to consider. Both storage technologies offer a much simpler and convenient way to access data between multiple devices. 

1. Storage Capacity

The Cloud offers unlimited data storage options with, of course, a cost. Most Cloud storage services require a commit to a monthly or annual subscription with a fixed storage capacity. In order to increase the capacity, there are options to upgrade to a more expensive plan with larger storage capacity. NAS systems are limited to the capacity of the hard drives and the number of hard drives the NAS system can hold. 

2. Performance

Both Cloud and NAS storage solutions allow users to access files and data anywhere with an internet connection. Cloud solutions typically load data much faster with server-grade performance and data center bandwidth. NAS systems are limited to the upload speed of the organization’s internet plan. 

3. Reliability & Backups

NAS and Cloud solutions prioritize data loss prevention. Cloud solutions follow strict disaster recovery plans that prevent data loss if anything were to occur on the cloud provider’s end. It is important for users to learn more and stay informed on how their cloud providers handle data loss prevention and backups. NAS solutions offer RAID support to ensure that data is not lost in the event of a hard drive failure. Backups can be set up by the administrator and sometimes require manual input while Cloud storage automatically backs up data. 

4. Cost

NAS solutions are significantly more cost effective as there is no subscription plans. However, manual attention is required to set up and configure the NAS solution. Cloud providers offer their automated services, data center performance and bandwidth with fixed storage capacity plans. Cloud storage is very simple and easy to set up as it is almost ‘plug-and-play' while NAS solutions require prior knowledge to set up RAID, internet protocols like port forwarding and security, and more. Additionally, NAS solution performance is dependent on the internet speed plan that it will be operating through.

Bottom Line 

NAS solutions are extremely useful at the edge where the Cloud can be unsustainable. Although the Cloud may offer superior performance with data center processing power and bandwidth, the localization of NAS solutions provides greater reliability and additional configurations to the edge. Premio is a global computing solutions provider that has been designing and manufacturing embedded edge computing solutions for over 30 years. This includes NAS solutions with exceptional performance and reliability. Built Rugged. Built Ready. Browse our selection of NAS solutions or contact one of our NAS professionals to learn more about how NAS can be beneficial to your applications.  

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