Nasuni adds block capabilities to cloud storage appliance

Nasuni turns cloud storage appliance into a unified controller, adding iSCSI to go with its NFS and CIFS capabilities.

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Cloud storage vendor Nasuni Corp. today said it is adding a block interface to its cloud storage controller so it can deliver unified storage for enterprises' remote and branch offices.

Nasuni launched in 2010 with a NAS cloud storage appliance, and is now offering iSCSI capability to go with NFS and CIFS support. It is also adding a larger controller to make it easier for customers who want block and file storage in one box.

A Nasuni controller is placed on a customer's site that works as a translator so data can be stored in the Amazon S3 or Microsoft Azure cloud. Nasuni's controller is available on a hardware appliance or as a software virtual appliance that customers can install on any hardware.

"Many of our customers have been asking, 'It's great that you address my file needs but why don't you do something that addresses my block needs?'" Nasuni CEO Andres Rodriguez said. "This is an expansion of the use case of what a single controller can do. It can now do all file protocols and block data. We can give you unified storage, but can do it with a consolidated stack."

Rodriguez said the Nasuni cloud storage appliance is not designed to run full enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems or an Oracle database, but can serve as a domain controller or "anything you can do on an entry-level NetApp box."

The hardware or virtual machine holds a copy of data locally on the customer site and a master copy resides in the cloud. Customers create a volume for block-based data that is mirrored to the master version in the cloud. File-based data is copied to the cloud via snapshots.

Rodriguez said Nasuni followed NetApp's approach to unified storage by starting out as a file server and then turning blocks into files.

"The biggest technical difference for customers is that when you deploy on the file side, you get thin provisioning on the volume. On the block side, you're getting a mirror volume of the block," he said. "You want to avoid latency that would generate a time-out on the application level. On the iSCSI side, we guarantee blocks will be delivered in a timely fashion by keeping them local."

Nasuni also rolled out its 2U NF-400 dual-processor system, which has twice as much RAM and scales to twice the local cache storage of the 1U NF-200. The NF-400 has 32 GB of RAM and holds between 6TB to 12TB of cache for file data and the same capacity in local storage for block data. The NF-400 has 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE) connectivity and supports up to 900 users, while the NF-200 uses Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) and supports 300 users. Price for the NF-400 model ranges from $12,500 to $17,500.

Customers can also deploy Nasuni as a virtual machine on VMware or Microsoft Hyper-V platforms for up to 50 users.

Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) Senior Analyst Steve Duplessie said the value of Nasuni's cloud storage appliance is that it lets remote offices manage less data.

"This is anti-storage," Duplessie said. "It's really a controller that sits in the remote office and allows all the actual storage to reside and be managed in the cloud by the central IT department. Remote infrastructure support is a nightmare, so removing it is a blessing to many organizations. In many ways this could be considered the easiest and most beneficial way for companies to build their private clouds."

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