Image: Western Digital

Western Digital recently announced the availability of a new NVMe solid state drive (SSD) that WD’s VP of client and enterprise SSDs for the flash business unit, Eric Spanneut, called “the perfect caching solution” for high-capacity NAS environments.

The drive isn’t meant to replace the stack of drives that live in a NAS, but it is meant to act as the host drive that caches files and handles the connection between the NAS and the network. For SMBs, NAS units can be the backbone of their local data storage. In many cases, a standard SSD is enough to handle management of a NAS, but not always, said Spanneut.

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“SMBs need robust systems that are efficient and intuitive to manage, and in many cases they need some sort of infrastructure on-premises. A NAS solution can benefit SMBs of all sizes, providing the performance, capacity and reliability they need. For more advanced and performance intensive applications, however, the NAS system will need a boost,” Spanneut said.

In comes the SN700, a gum-stick-sized SSD that’s ready to slip into the NVMe-ready M.2 slot on many current NAS enclosures. In terms of performance, the WD Red SN700 NVMe SSD can reportedly deliver up to 3,430 MB/s of data transfer (more than five times a standard SSD), is optimized for 24/7 workload environments, and is offered in sizes between 250 GB and 4 TB, with prices starting at just $64.99.

Are high-performance SSDs necessary for NAS units?

Julia Palmer, research VP at Gartner, says that the amount of unstructured data is growing at a rate of over 30% per year. Considering unstructured data is somewhere around 80% of the data a company possesses, the amount of information piling up can be vast.

The majority of that data, Palmer said, ends up on standard hard drives because latency in retrieving said data isn’t typically a problem. “Unstructured data growth is accelerating and requires robust solutions. However, not all of the data needs low latency and high performance, as the majority of unstructured data is still being stored on hard drives, especially when we are talking about Petabyte scale implementations,” Palmer said.

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NAS-assisting hardware, like the SN700, could be a key part of unstructured data strategies as businesses of all sizes continue to acquire useful, but copious and difficult to parse, data. In the case where data storage latency isn’t a problem—but where a large cache would make managing said data easier—a WD Red SN700 NVMe SSD may be just what your NAS needs to make that data more accessible without upping storage costs.