We’ve noticed a fair number of questions out there in the blogosphere asking what the Nasuni Filer “is” exactly. Is it a network attached storage device for near-term data? Is it a backup and synchronization tool that stores your data in the cloud? Is it secure?

The answer is “yes” to all of the above. We think of the Nasuni Filer as a combination of proven storage technology built on top of new technologies. It is old meets new in a unique way, so it is natural that there has been some confusion. So here are a few key points, in case you have been asking these same questions, or simply want a more concise definition.

The Filer is a NAS

Yes, the Filer is a network attached storage device (NAS). This means there are no per-user or per-seat licensing or payments needed. Your storage or systems administrator uses a simple web-based interface to manage the Nasuni Filer as they would any other NAS or SAN on the network. They export file shares to any number of users (no per-seat, per-user pricing), leveraging existing authentication mechanisms. And those users can write an unlimited (or up to a specified quota) amount of data to the Filer.

As a result, the Nasuni Filer meshes well with your existing IT infrastructure. There is no need to deploy new software or tools to all of your desktops and departments – no complex billing or new technologies to learn. The Nasuni Filer is a technological chameleon: It blends into the environment seamlessly. You can use all of your existing tools and utilities – there is no programming or scripting involved. There is no need to understand or “learn” cloud technology when using the Filer. Nasuni technology manages all of this for you.

The Filer is a Backup Tool

The Filer is not simply a NAS device that you can leverage for near-term data storage. It is a versioned NAS device.

At specified intervals, the Nasuni Filer takes snapshots of the data stored on it, backing up new or changed data to your chosen cloud storage provider(s). This means that your storage or systems administrator can walk through the entire lifetime of your Nasuni Filer and restore files and directories from any point in time, quickly. This removes the need for normal backup software, since your data is regularly backed up and stored securely in the cloud.

The Filer is a Synchronization Tool

Files are implicitly shared to all personnel within your organization, inside of your network, depending on the permissions set on the data. If your marketing department needs to share files with the sales group, all they have to do is write the data to the shared drive. Both teams will then have access to that data. This meshes well with the way most IT departments allocate and share storage today.

The Filer is Secure

Security is something all of us at Nasuni take very seriously, yet there are flaws in some existing cloud storage security strategies. If you were to adopt cloud storage right now, without the Nasuni Filer, you would need to manage the encryption and security of your files and data locally. You would need to master encryption key management, learn how to handle encryption keys, and more. You would have to figure out how to put the data in the cloud after encryption, then retrieve and decrypt it when you need it back. This is far too much to ask, of course, so the Filer delivers all this for you.

When you boot the Nasuni Filer for the first time, it generates a unique AES-256 key and immediately begins securing data using that key. Alternatively, you can provide your own encryption keys for data protection. The point to note, though, is that we begin encrypting your data as soon as the Filer boots. No data is sent over plain HTTP. No data is sent unencrypted. There is no additional management or knowledge burden for you as the administrator – all data is implicitly encrypted.

In fact, we are proud of the fact that it is impossible for us not to encrypt data. We do not even support a developer or testing mode for our own team that disables encryption. That is how seriously we take security. The only mode we support is secure.

The Filer is the Gateway to the Cloud

Finally, we come to the cloud. We have vetted our cloud storage partners extensively, measuring uptime, reliability and scalability. Storage in the cloud is purely pay-as-you-go, and you only pay for the space you use. The Filer reduces sign-up and management hassles too. You don’t need to create an account with a cloud provider, learn how to ingest data (no APIs), or secure that data yourself. The Nasuni Filer makes the cloud simple and secure.

In short, the Nasuni Filer is a secure, versioned NAS device. It offers unlimited storage by leveraging proven cloud providers. All security is local and all data is secured.

The Filer represents the next stage of storage allocation and management, a marriage of the proven technology, methods, and compatability of the old with the power and scalability of the new. Zero hardware, elasticity, simplicity.