Cloud Gateway vs. Cloud File System

What is the difference between a cloud gateway and a cloud file system? In this installment of our Whiteboard TechTalk Series, Nasuni Founder & CTO Andres Rodriguez answers that question and explains the pros and cons of both technologies.

Video Transcript

Now a cloud gateway is a straightforward device. It typically has in the front end of it NFS or CIFS, one of the traditional file protocols, and then in the back it talks to a single cloud provider. This could be any of the major cloud providers. These devices are almost all the time part of a solution that comes from one of these cloud providers. A cloud file system on the other side, it’s a native file system that exists in the cloud and it’s instantiated and formatted by the cloud file system inside one of the cloud provider. It can live in multiple cloud instances, and this is one of their great advantages, it can be both stored in multiple clouds, it can be accessed across multiple clouds, and it can also allow for the mobility of the file system from one cloud provider to another cloud provider and since we are always thinking about optionality around file systems, a cloud file system gives you really the most flexibility in terms of how to deploy your file infrastructure.

Like the cloud gateway, a cloud file system will typically have some form of appliance that has the CIFS or the NFS protocols in the front end but it’s crucially different from the cloud gateway in that behind the scenes this is actually used in synchronization to the cloud. And so this scale of what this can do is really cloud scale. You’re going to be able to get from tens of terabytes to tens of petabytes without having to reformat anything or in any way be concerned about the size of this appliance, whereas here it’s really a tiering model and the file system is contained within this appliance and then there’s a caching tier that goes to the cloud. So in terms of not only the capacity but the number of files, the number of directory structures, you’re going to be much more limited in terms of what you can do with a cloud gateway than what you can do with the true cloud scale file system that actually lives in the cloud. So optionality of clouds, the scale of the file system, and then if you take that scale and take it in the time direction – what a cloud file system gives you is infinite versioning. So you can have infinite WORM so right once, read many times, stable versions of the file system that live forever in the cloud. You know that has operational advantages such as being able to go back for years in your file system and restore either a single file, a directory structure, or a complete file share. So, tremendous utility in terms of being able to archive the file system as the file system is functioning. So infinite versioning then you can also connect a cloud file system from multiple appliances in multiple geographies around the world and link it all, and synchronize it all, against the same file system that’s in the cloud versus a cloud gateway. Typically they don’t allow you to do any kind of synchronization, you can just set up a new appliance here and maybe DR to that secondary appliance. That’s a very limited use case. In this case you have live active-active synchronization that allows you for in the most basic way to DR from one to another and create business continuity across your locations. But in more powerful ways, you can have active-active synchronization of the same file system across multiple geographies. In addition to that if you can run a log service that orchestrates the locks and unlocking of files across locations, you can enable active-active file collaboration to end users from any number of locations around the world or even locations in the world and locations in the cloud provider layer. So lots of flexibility, again like I said at the beginning in terms of where the file system is and where you can access the file system as well as how you can access that file system, as in active-active collaboration across sites. So truly for global file system type of capabilities, a cloud file system gives you a lot more than just a gateway.