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How Viable Is Cloud Storage?

Nasuni & Avere Quick View

This week has seen announcements from two companies I’ve been interested in and following for some time.

Nasuni
Nasuni
makes a storage appliance that stores all of a customer’s data in “the cloud”.  It’s available either as a physical device (effectively a server running their software) or as a virtual machine.  What makes their product interesting is that both the data and filer configuration reside on the cloud and can be reconstituted anywhere if for some reason the filer is lost (for example if the appliance is down or power was lost).  The only piece of data the customer needs to retain are the encryption keys to re-enable a new image of the filer.  A physical filer can even be reconstituted into a virtual one.  There’s a lot more to the product than this and I have it on long term trial in the lab (so expect a fuller review soon), however this week’s announcement relates to enhancements that bring block (in the form of iSCSI) to their existing file offering.  What this means is a branch office could host both file data and store data on (say) virtual machines sitting on a Nasuni iSCSI LUN datastore.

Although the iSCSI LUNs can’t scale “infinitely” like the NAS portion can (the data is pinned into the local cache for performance/integrity reasons), the combined offering does enable Nasuni to provide a single solution where iSCSI and block is the preferred format for some of the branch data.

Nasuni Storage Controller Interface (c) Nasuni

Avere
Avere
seems to have evolved over time from a “NAS optimisation” (i.e. remote NAS caching) solution to one that enables their FXT appliance to act as a NAS front-end, supporting data that is stored onsite in multiple locations or could be hosted in “the cloud”.  The “secret sauce” is the ability to move data around at the back end without the user knowing what’s going on (a feature that Nasuni can also do, by the way).  This makes it extremely valuable as a data archiving solution or a way of getting that “on-ramp” to the cloud.  Avere just received another round of funding to further develop their “edge filers”.

Avere Conceptual Diagram (c) Avere

The Architect’s View
Both of these products show cloud storage is a viable solution.  NAS in particular is a perfect target for offloading to the cloud as a high percentage of data is never used again once it is created.  Expect solutions like these to quickly encroach into traditional NAS solutions, especially in organisations that are geographically distributed with lots of branch offices.

Disclosure: Nasuni was a sponsor of Tech Field Day #8, at which I was an attendee.  As part of that attendance, during which my flights and accommodation were paid, I was not required to write about any of the presenting sponsors.

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