The Evolution of NAS: Connected Storage - Nasuni

The Evolution of NAS: What You Need to Know About Connected Storage

Overview

Connected devices are making our lives easier to manage, not to mention more efficient, mobile and flexible. Now those advantages are making their way into the IT storage world. Watch this exclusive video webcast with Fred Pinkett, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Nasuni, and learn how to overcome the challenges of the traditional storage stack through “connected storage.”

Video Transcript

Title: IDG – The Evolution of NAS – Connected Storage

Tom Schmidt:
Connected devices are making our world easier to manage, not mention more efficient, flexible, and mobile. Now those advantages are making their way into the IT storage world. Hi, I’m Tom Schmidt, with IDG Strategic Marketing Services, and I’m here with Fred Pinkett, senior director of product marketing at Nasuni. Fred has more than 25 years of product management and marketing experience, with specialties in storage and security. Welcome, Fred.

Fred Pinkett:
Hi, Tom. Great to be here.

Tom Schmidt:
Fred, consumer connected devices are everywhere today. But how does the connected device have anything to do with enterprise storage?

Fred Pinkett:
Yeah, so, you know, the connected device — you think of think of things like Nest or you think of things like your music player. So you have your music in the cloud, or you have information about your energy uses in the cloud. And then you have the connected device locally, which helps do sensing of the energy, helps you deal with that. Or, you know, in the case you have your music player — whatever it is — with you.

Tom Schmidt:
Mm-hmm.

Fred Pinkett:
And so, it’s a model that allows you to not have to worry about the storage of things, to not have to worry about the service of things. But it allows you to have direct access and real instant access to the things that you need: the ability to play music; the ability to adjust, for example, the temperature in your house, very easily. In the storage world, you know, we have to deal with the explosion of data, and we have to deal with all of the things you have to do to protect it. And if some of that could be moved into a service, and be done much more easily the way things are done with a connected device, that would really help IT out.

Tom Schmidt:
Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Nasuni talks about overcoming the challenges of the traditional storage stack through connected storage. What does that mean?

Fred Pinkett:
So, the challenges that IT faces with storage — it’s really just a mess right now. You know, you have the storage itself, but data is growing just exponentially. So the storage fills up. You have to buy new. You have to plan for a year and a half. Then you have to deal with the fact that storage is typically unreliable, right? It’s based on disk drives, and disk drives fail. So we’ve got all these things around it. We’ve got backup, and then you’ve got to have copies of the backup offsite, and you’ve got to be able to get back old versions. We have disaster recovery, so you have to replicate things. And we have to deal with the fact that people need access to the data all over the place. They need access to the data in different offices. They need access to the data when they’re on the go.

So, IT has all these challenges to deal with. You know, with storage, it’s not just about the data. It’s about protecting the data. It’s about securing the data. It’s about getting the data out to people in a more distributed way. With the idea of connected storage, or a connected approach, you can use the cloud to address some of those problems: those problems of backup; the problems of disaster recovery. You know your data is going to be safe and kept secure in the cloud. They’ve invested billions of dollars of datacenters, and most organizations couldn’t possibly duplicate what the cloud providers have done. And also because that is available on the internet, helps you with the access part of it.

So, the concept of a connected device, you know, can be modeled nicely into what IT needs to do to deal with some of the most thorny problems in storage, and yet provide the level of service that’s even better than you can with normal storage.

Tom Schmidt:
I see. Let’s drill down a little into how Nasuni makes storage as a service happen.

Fred Pinkett:
Yeah. So, the Nasuni product starts with a — with either a hardware device or a virtual device that’s — acts just like a typical network-attached storage or NAS box. So, from the user experience, it’s just like a — you know, a letter drive on their PC: you know, the Q drive or the S drive or, you know… And in the Mac, it’s a finder… But it’s the same thing that they’ve always done. But instead of using a physical disk drive we use the cloud as our disk drive.

So, the problems of protection, backup, disaster recovery, accessibility from multiple locations — that can be all addressed with this connected model. So everything that’s local — things that you need to be local like security, performance, and those sorts of things — can be handled by the fact that you have a local device. But all the things that you deal with because of, you know, the unreliability, the data is in the cloud. So everything that you need to deal with — like scalability, and the durability of the data, and the accessibility of the data — that can be handled through the service-based approach.

Tom Schmidt:
I see. Can you enlarge on the main differences between a connected approach from the traditional approach? What’s a — how’s a service-centric view differ from a device-centric approach?

Fred Pinkett:
Yeah, so, in the traditional approach, it’s kind of do-it-yourself, right? You buy a big storage box. You still have to plan for your growth and figure out what you’re going to need. Then you’ve got to layer on top of that some kind of backup process. And then you’ve got to layer on top of that some kind of disaster recovery. And you’re putting all of these things together, and you’re planning for your data growth, and you’re planning for what happens in a disaster. And then when you need to get the data out to people, you’ve got to add things like WAN optimization or distributed DFS, and things like that, to address the naming issues. And then you’ve got to put together all these disparate systems and then manage it yourself. So then you layer management systems on top of that. And then, of course, it’s all complex, so there’s a lot of people and a lot of expense and a lot of issues associated.

With a connected approach, it’s a much simpler service-based approach. You know, think from a music perspective, we used to have crates of records and stacks of equipment.

Tom Schmidt:
Mm-hmm.

Fred Pinkett:
And now, you know, all our music is just up in the cloud, and you just access it on your phone and you access it on whatever local device. The connected-storage approach gives you that same kind of facility. The data is cached locally in those Nasuni Filers that I was talking about. So it’s always accessible. Security is handled because the data is kept locally, and it’s under — encrypted, using a key that you control. But from the scalability, durability, accessibility part of it, with all of the data in the cloud and with our service-based approach to manage all of that for you, it makes it a lot easier. You don’t have to worry about layering all of those different pieces of technology together. We take care of that. The service helps run things for you.

Tom Schmidt:
I see. How does the connected-storage model improve the user experience and empower collaboration across many different locations?

Fred Pinkett:
So, because the data is up I the cloud, you can have multiple of these filers actually access the data from their local location. So somebody might, for example, have a filer in one office on one coast, another office on another coast, another office in Europe. And they can all access the same files. Now, this is not replication, which we have to do to deal with things where, if there’s a copy here and a copy here and there can be conflicts. This is actually — they’re accessing a cached copy of the same file, so it can be locked across those offices, for example, so you know who’s editing it. So it really makes for very easy accessibility.

Also, because of the accessibility of the data, you could have other things, like a mobile client or a web client. So the same data can be accessible on your mobile device wherever you are. So, from the user experience, it really doesn’t change from the in-the-office experience. Again, it’s the same thing. It’s a NAS box. It’s your — it’s your letter drive. It’s your — you know, file — it’s right there in your file. But then you have all these other options, like you have mobile access to the data, web access to the data. And so, you have the ability to access it, and it’s all very easy. There’s one log-in. The security is controlled by your IT. It’s a — it’s a much easier approach for the user.

Tom Schmidt:
Got it. Let’s talk a little bit about the benefits to IT with this model.

Fred Pinkett:
So, really it comes down to cost, scalability, and flexibility. Because you’re only caching the active data locally, you don’t have to buy these big boxes and provision big boxes and plan out three years worth of consumption, right? So you just have the local box, and it caches the data that’s in use, which is typically, I don’t know, 5 to 10 percent of people’s data.

So what’ll happen is, you can provision a box very simply and then, as your data grows, you can just grow your overall licensing to the storage in the cloud with a simple licensing. There’s — you don’t have to add disk drives or add shelves or do all this other work to deal with it, and have the effects that you have of that, across all those other disparate layers of technology that we were talking about. So you have, you know, instant and unlimited scalability. And, you know, you can go from 10 to 20 terabytes, you know, just like that, without it being an issue. You also have the lower cost, because you’re not provisioning all of these boxes, and you don’t have to worry about the planning.

You also have central management, so everything — because the data — the master copy of your data lives in the cloud, everything is managed just centrally from one location, from one user. You know, we’ve known customers who’ve gone from, you know, a staff of people to manage their storage to one person managing their storage part time, because it’s just that much simpler of an approach because of what we’re able to provide them.

Tom Schmidt:
Our audience loves to hear about use cases, and you just mentioned customers. Can you tell us a little bit more about your customers?

Fred Pinkett:
Yeah, so we have — yeah, we have customers in a number of different industries. You think of an industry people refer to as AEC — architecture, engineering, and construction. They have to collaborate on designs across continents, you know? You’ve got the person working on the electric for a giant skyscraper in one place, and the plumbing in another place, and the designer in another place. And they all have to collaborate. So we have customers who use this ability of the filers to access the data locally — because these are big design files and complex applications — are able to collaborate with locking protect– you know, for protection, so people can’t overwrite each other’s work. They’re able to collaborate between those offices, and really it becomes very easy.

A lot of these companies even start with us from a backup perspective. Usually backup is one of the big problems, right? The data grows. The backup window is a problem. You have to keep, you know, getting new generation of tape drives, new generation of disk-to-disk backup, whatever it is, figuring out how to get the software offsite. Well, with the Nasuni model, backup is just completely gone. All of that stuff is a thing of the past. You just write your data to the filer. The data is — versions of it, or a snapshot — we use a snapshot process — are put up to the cloud. And so, their backup is just — it’s a — it’s a — it’s not a separate thing, right? And whenever you need to restore a file, it’s instant.

The same thing for disaster recovery. Whenever we need to restore — you know, your — the datacenter gets wiped out in a disaster or something, you can just start up a new filer, virtual or physical, and point it at your data. So, these AEC type customers or companies will come to us for either the backup challenge or the file-collaboration challenge, and we can solve both of those with one product, so it saves them a lot of money.

We have other companies in higher ed. You know, higher ed, the data is growing very fast. You know, just always turnover of new students and new bits of data, but you can’t get rid of old data. You know, professors and researchers are working, and they’re constantly doing new projects, and they have to archive the old projects. So you have a lot of old data that sits there. It doesn’t get touched, but you constantly have to grow. So rather than, you know, buying newer and newer and bigger and bigger systems, that data can just grow in the cloud, and the active data is very easy. So, you know, for higher ed, they’ll come to us for the ability to scale, but also that backup and disaster-recovery type option, because, you know, you always have to have that as well.

Tom Schmidt:
Got it. Well, that’s about all the time we have for today. I want to give a big thanks to Fred Pinkett of Nasuni for sharing his insights. For more information on this subject, be sure to check the resources below. And thank you for joining us. For IDG and Nasuni, I’m Tom Schmidt.