In the past NAS boxes were more a glorified external hard drives that had network compatibilities. These were nice devices since you can share them out amongst the network users or use them as a backup solution for various machines or servers on the network. They were popular but never really took root as a sole back end server for a business.
I think for IT consultants we easily realized that a single drive storage device to be used as the back end for your business was a risky proposition. Here is a list of potential pitfalls for a simple NAS (Network Storage Device).
- Lack of backup solution for it
- Notorious for breaking down
- No RAID configuration, or if there was RAID configuration the cost was much higher
- No way to determine if there were any problems with it, it seem like they worked or be completely non-functional
- No way to install an application which are needed for server-client applications
Things have evolved… now NAS device are definitely more intelligent. For example a ReadyNAS Pro from Netgear can hold 2 – 3 drive in a RAID 1 or 5 configuration; it has a intelligent schedule backup capability where you can attach an external hard drive to it; lastly it has ways to install designated applications called add-ons that can allow it to sync up to the cloud (such as Egnyte) and even run Tivo.
In certain small company situations, I can see this become a strong candidate as their back end file server. This is especially true in the advent of hosted Exchange setups where that portion of an office system can be set offsite. I can easily see how these sorts of devices can become a standard for smaller organizations.