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More NAS Backup Targets Offer HA with Benefits

Not so long ago, using network attached storage (NAS) backup targets with highly available (HA) configurations were rarely considered. Even if a NAS backup target offered HA, it sold at a significant premium. Fast forward to today. Organizations now have multiple providers that offer affordable NAS backup targets with HA from which to choose. However, organizations must carefully consider their options as controller configurations on these NAS backup targets can vary significantly.

The Growing Need for HA in NAS Backup Targets

HA on NAS backup targets once represented a solution reserved for use with mission critical applications. These applications had high data change rates, large amounts of data to back up, and minimal-to-no backup windows.

These conditions often necessitated using NAS backup targets with HA. These targets had to remain constantly available so backups could be completed within their scheduled backup window.

While this use case persists, others have emerged that require NAS backup targets to deliver HA. These new scenarios include:

  • Organizations classify many more applications as business or mission critical that they need to quickly back up.AdobeStock 67553551 HA Knob Resized
  • More applications mean higher volumes of backup data.  Organizations must backup this data in the same or smaller backup windows. These conditions make always-on NAS backup targets a necessity.
  • Lower hardware and software components costs have made NAS backup targets more affordable to acquire.
  • Organizations want to scan backups residing on backup targets for ransomware.
  • Organizations want to host application and data recoveries on backup targets if their production storage becomes compromised or unavailable.
  • Organizations may expect to perform instant recoveries. Achieving this ideal often involves performing application or data recoveries in only minutes.

These and other use cases increasingly require NAS backup targets to possess HA functionality to handle increased backup workloads. They must also handle new workloads such as scanning for ransomware, facilitating fast restores, and even hosting production applications. They may even need to facilitate performing concurrent workloads that include backups, restores, and hosted recoveries.

This mix of demands that organizations now place on NAS backup targets requires them to select solutions that offer HA. However, they must select NAS backup targets that offer the right HA configuration to meet their needs.

HA Only … or HA with Benefits

In evaluating HA, organizations must first determine do they only want HA, or if they want HA with benefits. Here’s the difference between the two.

HA Only

Some NAS backup targets only offer a baseline level of HA. In an HA-only configuration, the solution does include two controllers, or servers, in it. However, one of the two servers essentially sits idle in a standby state. Referred to as an Active-Passive configuration, the second server only comes online if the primary server or controller goes offline.

This configuration ensures the near-constant availability of backups hosted on the NAS backup target. However, the resources on the second server essentially sit unused all the time.

In this standby state, the second server only acts as a replacement server should the primary server fail. It cannot handle backup jobs, scan backups for ransomware, or any restore or recovery tasks.

HA with Benefits

HA configurations on other NAS backup targets address this shortcoming of Active-Passive configurations. These NAS backup targets keep both controllers active so they can handle these increased workloads. They may offer one, and potentially multiple, of the following HA configurations:

  • Active-Active. Each controller or server on the NAS backup target is active. Each server is assigned control or permissions to all the NAS backup target’s storage. In the event of a controller/server failure or outage, the other active server takes over.
  • Dual-Active. Each controller or server on the NAS backup target is active. Each server is assigned control or permissions to approximately half of the NAS backup target’s storage. In the event of a controller/server failure or outage, the failed server’s storage is assigned to the active server.
  • Scale-out. Usually at least three servers with storage get deployed in this configuration. The NAS backup target software is installed on each server.  This software configures the servers to appear as one logical NAS backup target on the network. Should one server fail, the other two servers take over for the failed server to keep the backup target continuously available and online.

Using modern HA configurations, organizations have access to and may use the computing and networking resources on the second (or additional) servers at any time. These configurations give them the HA they seek while better equipping them to expedite backups, scan for ransomware, and perform fast restores and instant recoveries. Further, they can accomplish these initiatives without having to acquire additional NAS backup targets.

HA Configurations on NAS Backup Targets Merit Scrutiny

Today’s organizations place more demands than ever on their NAS backup targets. They still expect them to ensure backups are completed successfully and within their backup windows. However, they also increasingly need to handle increased backup workloads, scan for ransomware, and perform instant restores and recoveries. In some cases, they may even need to perform all these tasks concurrently.

Cost-effectively and efficiently performing these tasks calls for organizations to identify and select NAS backup targets with more sophisticated HA configurations. These provide organizations with HA along with all the other features they need to handle the demands of their modern-day workloads. To realize these benefits however, they must select a NAS backup target that offers an HA configuration which makes all the resources on each of its servers/controllers available for use all the time. In this vein, in 2024 DCIG will release multiple TOP 5 reports on NAS backup targets. These will highlight the best backup targets for organizations to use to meet the new demands that they now place on them.


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Technology providers interested in licensing DCIG TOP 5 reports or having DCIG produce custom reports, please contact DCIG for more information.

About DCIG

The Data Center Intelligence Group (DCIG) empowers the IT industry with actionable analysis. DCIG analysts provide informed third-party analysis of various cloud, data protection, and data storage technologies.  DCIG’s audiences include C-level executives, IT managers, IT professionals, magazine editors, bloggers, analysts, and providers within the IT and cloud services industry with DCIG reaching millions of these individuals each year through its publications.

If you would like more information about this DCIG research, please contact Jerome Wendt at 844.324.4552 x 901 or email


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