Cloud File Services Frequently Asked Questions | Nasuni

General

1. Why is Nasuni needed?

Files are the fastest growing type of data in the world. The traditional NAS, file server, archive, backup, and disaster recovery solutions used to store, protect, and share unstructured file data can no longer keep pace. As a result, IT cost and complexity are increasing, and digital transformation, efficiency, growth, M&A, compliance, mobility, and globalization objectives are not being met.

Cloud object storage is the disruptive new technology that can offer more scalable file storage at much lower cost. But just like disk-based file systems were needed to make block storage usable for storing files, an object-storage based file system is needed to make object storage usable for storing files.

Nasuni has developed and patented the first object storage-based global file system. Nasuni UniFS® is now being delivered as part of the Nasuni Cloud File Services™ platform to help enterprises overcome their unstructured data growth challenges, reduce IT cost and complexity, and meet strategic business and digital transformation objectives.

2. What is Nasuni?

Nasuni Cloud File Services™ is a software-defined platform that consolidates Network Attached Storage (NAS), distributed file servers, data protection, instant recovery, file archiving, multi-site file synchronization, and global file locking in one simple, scalable solution that spans the data center and the cloud. Together with public or private cloud object storage, it is the modern way to store, protect, synchronize, and collaborate on unstructured file data. Nasuni – short for “NAS Unified” – is basically better NAS, at half the cost.

The Nasuni platform is made up of standard and premium services that can be licensed stand-alone or together:

  • NASUNI PRIMARY - primary file storage, data protection, and business continuity for traditional NAS and file server workloads.
  • NASUNI ARCHIVE - affordable long-term file retention and rapid retrieval for cool file workloads.
  • NASUNI SYNCHRONIZE - extends the NASUNI PRIMARY and NASUNI ARCHIVE services with seamless file sharing across any number of locations.
  • NASUNI COLLABORATE - extends NASUNI PRIMARY and NASUNI SYNCHRONIZE with global file lock for real-time file collaboration without version conflict.

3. How does Nasuni work?

At the heart of the Nasuni platform is Nasuni UniFS®, the first file system designed for the "new disk" - public or private cloud object storage such as Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure blob storage, Dell EMC ECS, Google Cloud Storage, Hitachi object storage, IBM Cloud Object Storage, and Western Digital HGST. Freed from the constraints of legacy disk-based file systems, Nasuni's patented global file system has no limits on file size, file type, number of files, or volume size.

UniFS also has the unique ability to extend itself anywhere high performance file access is needed using Nasuni Edge Appliances, which cache just the actively used files and their associated metadata from object storage, and support the same standard CIFS and NFS file sharing protocols as traditional NAS. By replacing full-sized file servers and NAS devices with virtual or physical Nasuni Edge Appliances that are just big enough to cache the active files, fast file access can be provided in all locations at a fraction of the cost. Nasuni's unique "cache from cloud" architecture offers unlimited primary and archive file storage capacity, continuous file versioning, instant recoveries, easy DR, fast file synchronization across sites, and global file locking.

Nasuni is also the first platform that correlates what you pay with the value of your data, so you never have to move data again. As your NASUNI PRIMARY files age and become inactive, they become reclassified as NASUNI ARCHIVE, so you simply pay less, without having to move the inactive data to lower cost tiers of storage.

Nasuni can be deployed fully on-premises using private cloud object storage, fully in the cloud with edge appliance VMs in Azure or AWS, or, most commonly, as a hybrid cloud solution using public cloud object storage and on-premises edge appliances.

4. What are the main benefits?

Nasuni aligns business and IT objectives with powerful benefits for both.

For IT, Nasuni reduces file infrastructure TCO by an average of 60%, while freeing administrators from the traditional pains of unstructured data management. Nasuni enables IT to:

  • Comply with cloud-first and digital transformation objectives.
  • Reduce on-premises file and archive storage and associated floor space, power and cooling up to 80%.
  • Eliminate file backup software maintenance, hardware, and media costs, as well as the operational costs of managing file backup.
  • Eliminate dedicated DR infrastructure for files and the associated costs of hardware, replication, and backup.
  • Reduce MPLS, DFSR, and WAN acceleration costs needed for cross-office file access.
  • Restore access to file data in minutes after malware, Ransomware, accidental deletions or major disasters.
  • Simplify management of appliances, shares, volumes, and protocols.
  • Enjoy never having to do a bulk file data migration or forklift upgrade again.

For lines of business, Nasuni boosts workforce productivity and ensures business continuity. Nasuni enables business users to:

  • Access unlimited file storage capacity to drive positive business outcomes.
  • Open critical application files and synchronize them across all locations with high performance.
  • Shift workloads to different offices to take advantage of excess capacity, special expertise, or lower costs.
  • Eliminate dedicated DR infrastructure for files and the associated costs of hardware, replication, and backup.
  • Accelerate product time-to-market and project completion by streamlining product life cycle management (PLM), business information model (BIM), and creative workflows.
  • Streamline integration of acquired companies by quickly ingesting new file data and giving acquired offices instant access to parent data.

5. What kinds of customers and industries are choosing Nasuni?

Nasuni is ideally suited for any enterprise with more than 40 TB of file storage that is dealing with the challenges of unstructured data growth. Our customers include the #1 or #2 largest organizations in 14 industry sectors, including Advertising, Architecture, Beverages, Construction, Entertainment, Manufacturing, Oil Services, Public Relations, Publishing, Real Estate, Sporting Goods, State Government, Telecommunications, and Wine and Spirits.

Technical FAQs

1. What technical challenges does Nasuni address?

  • Unstructured Data Growth: Storage hardware refreshes, forklift upgrades and repeated data migrations consume too much IT time and effort. With Nasuni, storage scales on-demand, and there is no practical limit to the volume of data stored securely in the cloud. The size of the file system is decoupled from the capacity of local hardware.
  • Multi-Site Access: To extend access to remote users, many companies today are forced to rely on added solutions such as VPNs, replication or WAN optimization/acceleration. Nasuni Edge Appliances cache frequently accessed files at every location across the enterprise. That means designers, engineers, creatives and other end users in remote offices enjoy the same fast access to critical files as their colleagues in headquarters.
  • Cross-site Collaboration: End users in multiple locations can efficiently collaborate on the same project files through Nasuni’s global namespace. IT can establish new collaborative shares in minutes, and Nasuni reduces reliance on replication, WAN optimization, VPN and related technologies.
  • IT Complexity: By delivering storage, protection and multi-site access in a single platform, Nasuni reduces the number of point solutions in the IT environment. This cuts costs and complexity, and massively simplifies management.
  • IT Silos: Regardless of your present infrastructure, Nasuni unifies the entire storage environment across all locations under a single platform. Nasuni puts an end to storage silos and empowers IT with a single-pane-of-glass management console that allows lean IT teams to oversee remote infrastructure as if they’re on site.

2. What are the common use cases for Nasuni?

  • Cloud-first initiatives: Nasuni eases the transition to the cloud, allowing companies to transform storage and other IT infrastructure costs from CAPEX into OPEX. On-demand scalability lets companies expand capacity only when needed, and the entire provisioning process is streamlined.
  • Primary NAS: By switching to Nasuni, companies avoid costly SAN and NAS infrastructure upgrades. While home directories, group shares, and frequently accessed files are cached locally, UniFS® ensures that all files and metadata scale in the cloud. This way, storage can never outgrow local infrastructure.
  • Storage Consolidation: Through the combination of edge appliances and a global namespace, Nasuni unifies all enterprise locations, regardless of local infrastructure. Enterprises leverage the benefits of centralized storage without sacrificing performance and security at each location.
  • Backup: Continuous versioning to georedundant cloud volumes eliminates the need for traditional backup technologies. Data protection is automatic, and both end users and IT can easily restore lost or deleted files and directories, roll back to previous versions in the event of a ransomware attack and more. This approach to data protection results in industry-leading recovery points and recovery times.
  • Disaster Recovery (DR): The most recent versions of all files and metadata are securely stored in multiple georedundant locations. As a result, instead of being down for hours or days following power outages or major disasters, IT can restore access to files and directories within 15 minutes.
  • Active Archive (Cool Storage Edition): Some enterprises generate files they will not need for years or even decades, but may need to locate and restore quickly at some point in the future. Nasuni’s Active Archive offering allows enterprises to store unstructured data at a reduced cost per GB, but still retrieve these files when needed.
  • Cross-Site Collaboration: Enterprises have to support collaboration across locations, allowing multiple users to work on the same project files, to get the most out of their distributed teams or leverage expertise in different regions. Nasuni’s cloud-native architecture provides a global namespace built for multi-site access and collaboration – one that handles all files, from office documents to complex engineering project data.
  • IoT Platform Storage: The rapidly expanding Internet of Things is driving tremendous data growth on factory floors, in manufacturing facilities and across entire ecosystems of devices. Nasuni allows companies to get more out of this data by centralizing it in the cloud.

3. What file types does Nasuni work with?

UniFS® stores, protects and extends access to unstructured data of all types – Office files, CAD/CAM, Adobe creative content, medical images, high-resolution video, LIDAR imagery, GIS data and more.

4. Is there any limit to the number of files that can be stored in Nasuni?

No. UniFS® was designed to leverage the unlimited scale of the cloud, so there is no limit to the number of files. Still, all data is chunked, compressed and deduplicated before being sent to the cloud to ensure that enterprises aren’t paying for unnecessary storage or bandwidth.

5. Can I still access my data if I can’t connect to the cloud?

Yes. Because of UniFS®’s intelligent caching algorithms, frequently accessed files almost always remain in local edge appliances. Our cache has a success rate of 98.5%.

6. Do end users see any difference after the switch to Nasuni?

Since Nasuni caches files locally and preserves familiar drives, directory structures and shares, end users often fail to notice when IT completes the cutover. The exceptions are employees in small offices and remote locations, who typically find that file access accelerates.

7. Which clouds does Nasuni support?

Nasuni supports Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud Object Storage, and other leading private and public clouds.

Security and Privacy FAQs

1. Is Nasuni and the cloud as secure as storing files on-premises?

Yes, and in some ways more so. UniFS® chunks, deduplicates, compresses and encrypts all unstructured data and metadata. Data is encrypted with customer-controlled keys, which means neither Nasuni nor the cloud provider can read those files. Nasuni Edge Appliances join Active Directory, so all existing access controls and users are maintained.

2. Does Nasuni work with my existing authentication and access solutions?

Nasuni integrates with Active Directory and LDAP for authentication, and provides access via SMB/CIFS, NFS, FTP and other standard protocols. End users access their files, directories and shares the same way they always have. That familiar “N” or “Z” drive appears unchanged, but on the backend, it syncs with the unlimited cloud.

3. Does Nasuni help mitigate Ransomware?

Because of continuous versioning, in which changes to files are constantly streamed to a secure cloud volume, Nasuni allows enterprises impacted by Ransomware to roll back to and restore previous versions of files and directories. There is no limit here, either. One of our clients recovered from a Ransomware attack that infected 62,000 files.

4. Is Nasuni HIPAA compliant?

There is no seal or stamp of approval that certifies HIPAA compliance for technology products, but Nasuni and its cloud storage partners provide file storage and file services that satisfy the needs of organizations operating under the strict standards laid forth by HIPAA and other applicable regulations.

5. Can Nasuni or my cloud provider see my files?

No. All files and metadata are encrypted with customer-controlled keys before they leave the security perimeter of your company. Since neither Nasuni nor the cloud provider have access to these encryption keys, neither one of us can read your files. Nasuni also takes additional steps to protect your data, including only transmitting data over secure connections.

Licensing and Cost FAQs

1. How is Nasuni licensed?

Nasuni is licensed as a subscription based on total primary storage under management. There is no limit to the number of locations or the number of users accessing files. Virtual edge appliances are included, while hardware edge appliances can be purchased.

2. How does Nasuni shift CAPEX to OPEX?

Because Nasuni allows unstructured data to scale in the cloud, the total volume is independent of the size or capacity of local hardware. Storage is no longer a capital expense demanding cyclical hardware refreshes and forklift upgrades. Storage becomes a service, an operating expenditure that enterprises can dial up or down on demand, as storage needs change.

3. How much does Nasuni cost?

That depends on the total storage under management and the needs at each location, but generally our clients save 40-60% on their total file storage costs.

4. How does Nasuni reduce file storage costs?

Nasuni reduces file storage costs by eliminating expensive hardware refreshes, reducing the number of point solutions enterprises are forced to rely on today and getting rid of expensive, time-consuming solutions like separate backup, separate DR, WAN acceleration and replication.

5. Is Nasuni less expensive than what I’m doing today for file infrastructure?

Most of our customers end up saving 40-60% on their total file storage, protection and access costs. The savings comes from converting storage from a labor-intensive capital expense to an on-demand service, eliminating the need for backup and other solutions, reducing WAN optimization/acceleration costs and more.

6. Does the cost increase when I add new offices or users?

No. Nasuni was built to scale without limitations. Enterprises can extend file storage, protection and high-performance access to an unlimited number of users and locations at no added costs.

Competition FAQs

1. What are the legacy products Nasuni replaces?

Typically Nasuni replaces Dell EMC Isilon, NetApp and other on-premises storage solutions that are costly, complex and fail to scale at enterprise level.

2. How is Nasuni different from competitive solutions?

UniFS®. Because of UniFS®, the industry’s first cloud-native file system, Nasuni is the only solution that can truly deliver enterprise file services at cloud scale. While some competitive solutions appear to offer the same benefits, they fail to scale beyond a handful of office locations. Nasuni is designed to manage all file workloads across an unlimited number of locations and users. The cloud has no practical limits, and neither does our cloud-native file system.

3. Do I still need file sync and share products like Box or Dropbox if I have Nasuni?

If you have a large number of mobile workers who need to access a limited number of small files, or a limited number of end users who need to collaborate within relatively simple applications, file sync and share products like Dropbox and Box will do the job. But Nasuni is designed to replace these products when you have privacy and security concerns, longer data retention requirements, data provenance requirements, complex file workloads and extensive cross-site collaboration.

4. Is Nasuni a cloud gateway?

Generally, cloud gateways are one-to-one links between a specific location and the cloud. Nasuni is designed to unify an unlimited number of locations and users under one unlimited, cloud-scale file system. Not to mention that we enhance data protection, extend fast access to remote sites, boost cross-site collaboration, extend secure access to mobile users and simplify management of the entire global IT infrastructure. Gateways can’t do all that.

5. Does Nasuni eliminate the need for backup?

Yes. Our breakthrough approach to data protection continuously takes any new or changed data, then chunks, deduplicates, compresses and encrypts this data before pushing it to the cloud. The cloud effectively serves as a constantly-updated backup target. Nasuni allows for an unlimited version history in the cloud, and all data is stored in multiple georedundant locations. In short, Nasuni replaces backup with something much better.

6. Does Nasuni eliminate the need for DR?

DR is another built-in capability of Nasuni’s cloud-native architecture. In the event of a power outage, a major disaster or the failure of an edge appliance, a new appliance can be pointed to the cloud object store from any location with power and connectivity. IT can launch this new appliance and restore access to files within 15 minutes. Some of our clients also maintain stand-by appliances for warm fail-over in case of a DR event, which is much simpler than legacy solutions requiring an entire duplicate infrastructure.