All data is built from the same fundamental components, the 512-byte chunks of raw storage known as blocks. Before launching Nasuni, our founders engaged in an extended debate over whether to build an enterprise storage system that caches blocks locally and stores them to the cloud or one that focuses on higher-level files and other unstructured data. The decision to design the technology around files meant Nasuni would work best with unstructured data, not structured data, but since the former was growing – and continues to grow – at a much faster pace, this turned out to be the right choice. Nasuni is better equipped to solve a major problem that stretches across industries and enterprises.
In the past few years, an additional and equally compelling justification for the focus on files has emerged. There are significant differences between sharing structured vs. unstructured data in the cloud, and that original choice allowed us to develop a unique, powerful enterprise-grade global file sharing system.
Structured Data in the Cloud
With structured data, for applications like web sites and databases to work efficiently, the application and the structured data need to be close together. So the standard solution is either to put them both in the same location or put the application and data together in the cloud. Due to its nature, data is shared through the application, and not directly. Remote users can access the application via a browser – so as long as the application and data are together, the user doesn’t have to be there.
Unstructured Data in the Cloud
When sharing unstructured data, you are working with files. Although files are fundamentally comprised of blocks, accessing a few of the blocks that make up a file will not do you much good. The files themselves need to exist as whole units. Nasuni caches files instead of blocks to avoid conflicts, time-outs, and other file-server-related headaches, but this strategy also makes it easier to share that data across an organization.
Any solution that shares files through the cloud has to treat the file as the fundamental unit of data, not the block, or it will risk performance problems. Nasuni’s global file sharing allows enterprise users with the proper permissions to access the same file volumes, regardless of their location. The focus on unstructured data also allowed us to implement the only global locking solution with cloud scalability.
A True Global File System
As files are accessed, they are cached locally on cloud-backed storage devices to ensure high performance. This local caching is necessary, as file-based applications can suffer from both latency and bandwidth issues. To ensure the kind of performance that enterprise users demand, the user, application and the files must be or act like they are local. Our initial strategic decision to move away from blocks was made with caching and off-site storage in mind, but it has also made global file sharing with locking possible.
Read more about how Nasuni’s global file system helps organizations share files across multiple offices, from headquarters to small regional locations, at a fraction of the cost of traditional storage.
In a new report, Gartner recognizes Nasuni as a leading cloud-integrated storage solution. Find out how Nasuni can help you manage data growth.