In this post, let’s talk about Unified Storage. It is a term that describes a solution that can handle block data and files. Block data is usually transferred to the clients through Fibre Channel or iSCSI while files are transferred through NFS (Linux) and CIFS (Microsoft) protocols. Unified Storage might be called as a combination of NAS (Network Attached Storage) and SAN (Storage Area Network).
There are some customer needs that are better solved through NAS: if the customer needs a file share for their users or if the customer has tens of thousands of virtual machines, the management usually is easier having files than different LUN’s for them. But for a lot of other customer needs, block level storage is a better solution: VMware has more features in block-level than file-level, like VAAI; Databases have better performance and more integration using block-level as well.
If you already have a block-level storage you can easily add file-level storage just by adding a file server (Microsoft or Linux) connected to your SAN. But you are not going to have a single management tool. That is one advantage of a Unified Storage Solution: having an easier way to configure and manage your entire block and file data. In addition, file systems and Windows-based NAS file storage are difficult to expand because of capacity limitations and the complexity involved in managing multiple systems.