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Public storage cloud facilitates file collaboration for global firm

Holding company JSJ uses public cloud storage for file collaboration to speed acquisition integration and facilitate management of file data.

Holding company JSJ Corp. uses a public storage cloud for primary file data to speed integration of acquired companies and to share information across international offices more efficiently.

JSJ is a Grand Haven, Mich.-based holding company for six manufacturing firms, some with offices spread throughout the United States, China and other parts of Asia. JSJ provides financial and technology support for all the companies and needs to share file data across all locations.

One of its main challenges is allowing seamless file collaboration to share engineering information across international offices. For that, it turned to Nasuni appliances to move files to and recover them from a public cloud.

Before implementing Nasuni appliances and the public cloud this year for file collaboration, JSJ tried wide-area network (WAN) optimization and replication of data such as computer-aided design (CAD) files.

“We did it for three years, but the users still were unhappy. User performance and access was slow,” said Jason Benway, JSJ’s data center architect. “And we didn’t want to add more bandwidth at a higher cost per month while also dealing with latency.”

Nasuni appliances use a high-performance cache and take snapshots that allow for file-level restores from either Amazon S3 or Microsoft Azure cloud storage. The filers support NFS, CIFS and Windows Active Directory and Distributed File System (DFS).

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“We're just dipping our toes into the public cloud” by placing three Nasuni appliances in China and one in North America for online file collaboration, Benway said. Nasuni allows JSJ’s manufacturing companies to hold a primary copy of the data in the cloud and a secondary copy in the Nasuni cache. When a change is made to the local file, it's synchronized with the primary copy stored in the cloud.

“I don’t have to replicate it,” Benway said. “We have a high-speed network connection instead of having a WAN.”

JSJ uses the cloud to put its holding companies’ sub-active directories under the corporation’s main Active Directory domain to consolidate for security access purposes.

“We have a long-term strategy to consolidate the domains,” Benway said. “Nasuni allows us to do this because a domain in China automatically is placed in the JSJ main domain. Any new directories created are put into the parent domain. As the sub-domains are needed less and less, they will naturally die off. ”

Benway said about 5% of JSJ’s primary storage is in the public cloud. The rest is on an EMC Corp. VNX storage-area network (SAN) array JSJ purchased last year, but Benway said he's slowly moving data from the VNX to Nasuni storage.

“The simplicity and the cost don’t match up between the two,” Benway said. “They're not on the same scale.”

He said he hasn’t been able to calculate cost savings yet from using the cloud, but “from a functionality standpoint, it’s been huge.”

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