Nasuni Corp. today released an upgrade of the Nasuni Filer virtual appliance that serves as a gateway to cloud storage providers. Nasuni 2.0 includes support for the Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor, Windows Azure cloud-services platform, Microsoft Distributed File System (DFS), and Windows Previous Versions file restore technology.
Nasuni emerged from stealth in February with a VMware virtual appliance that uses CIFS to access the public clouds of its partners. Nasuni CEO Andres Rodriguez said the vendor added Hyper-V compatibility to widen its customer base.
"A lot of the people that were in the early adoption phase of virtualization can now test our filer without having to commit to VMware," Rodriguez said. "Hyper-V support was one of our most common requests."
The new version also added Windows Azure to the company's list of public-cloud partners, which includes Amazon Web Services LLC's Simple Storage Services (S3), Iron Mountain Inc.'s Storage-as-a-Service (STaaS), Nirvanix Inc.'s Storage Delivery Network (SDN), and Rackspace Inc.'s Cloud Files.
Nasuni 2.0 also supports Microsoft DFS Namespace as well as the previous version file restore that lets users view and restore files from any previous version. "To our end users and IT administrators' this is one of the sexiest features of the new release," Rodriguez said of Previous Versions.
Nasuni's Filer uses local storage as a cache for frequently used files and metadata. Nasuni recommends the local cache be 5% to 10% of the total amount of data to be managed. The default cache size out-of-the-box is 120 GB.
"So you end up with essentially a software appliance running in your ESX [or Hyper-V] server consuming storage from your SAN," Rodriguez said, "but it's consuming storage only for caching reasons. The real storage is in Rackspace or Amazon."
The cache can be resized by stopping the virtual appliance, resizing the cache, and then restarting. The Filer supports a cache of up to 2 TB.
Star Wang, IT manager for Navajo Manufacturing Company (NMC) Inc., a Denver, Colo.,-based provider of products for convenience stores, started using the Nasuni Filer in August. Wang said NMC replaced an old server that was managing its file services. He considered a SAN "but that's quite expensive," Wang said. NMC also used EMC Corp.Mozy online backup but it lacked file management.
Wang manages IT services for about 100 users and has a total of 330 GB stored through his Nasuni Filer.
"Overall, it's been good for us," Wang said, but he said there is room for improvement. After you upload a file to the cloud, Wang said, there's no way to delete it. You can delete files from workstations and the local cache, but there's no way to delete a file from the cloud account.
Wang also said Macintosh users notice considerably slower performance while retrieving files from the cloud. "It doesn't seem like the Mac OS is working as consistently as the Windows OS," Wang said. He said larger files also take longer download the first time they are retrieved from the cloud. "It only happens when you first use it," Wang said. "When it's in the local cache, there's not too much of a performance problem."
Pricing eliminates bandwidth concerns
Customers pay Nasuni a $300 monthly fee for the Filer plus storage charges to their cloud provider. Nasuni pays its customers' bandwidth charge, which Jeff Boles, a senior analyst at the Taneja Group research and consulting firm, said eliminates one of the roadblocks to cloud storage adoption.
"For most users, the scariest element of firing up a cloud storage project is not knowing what your data transfer patterns are, especially behind an intermediary device like Nasuni that might optimize that transfer," Boles said. "Nasuni is stomping out that uncertainty, and if you think about it, this is just the type of arrangement you want to enter into in the cloud world."
Rodriguez said Nasuni's 12 paying customers were acquired through direct sales, but the vendor is working on building up a channel.
Nasuni takes a similar gateway approach to cloud storage as other startups such as Cirtas, Panzura, StorSimple, and TwinStrata, although those vendors vary in the types of data they handle.