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SoftNAS adds gateway for hybrid cloud, NAS services for VSAN

SoftNAS expands its cloud storage with the Cloud File Gateway virtual appliance to move on-premises unstructured data into Amazon S3.

SoftNAS this week launched a cloud storage gateway and upgraded its SoftNAS Cloud software that runs in Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure to provide NAS capabilities.

The SoftNAS Cloud File Gateway is a virtual appliance that serves as a unified file system for VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisors to enable on-premises and hybrid cloud storage. Its storage feature set includes thin provisioning, instant snapshots with snapclones, RAM and solid-state drive caching, inline deduplication and compression.

The gateway provides NFS and CIFS/SMB file sharing, and can serve as NAS on top of VMware's block-only Virtual SAN (VSAN) hyper-converged software. It includes a cache for Amazon S3-compatible object storage. It caches backup or archiving data locally, and moves it off to S3 cloud storage in the background. The gateway also moves files to any private cloud with object storage that supports the S3 API.

SoftNAS has been selling its cloud software since 2012. It started with Amazon Web Services (AWS) support and added support for Azure and VMware vCloud Air in 2014. SoftNAS Cloud 3.3's new features include cross-zone high availability for Amazon Virtual Private Clouds on AWS, instant writeable snapclones that do not require additional disk space, consistent SoftNAS storage pools that use multiple snapshots for backup and recovery, and automated drive sparing to rebuild failed drives from a hot spare.

SoftNAS also extended its no downtime guarantee to customers running on VMware -- it promises 99.999% uptime for SoftNAS Cloud running in a high availability configuration. SoftNAS previously offered the guarantee on AWS. SoftNAS will refund the service fees for any month in which five nines are not achieved.

The Cloud File Gateway is priced at $119 for a monthly subscription and $1,195 for an annual subscription with 1 TB of storage, and $495 per month or $4,995 per year for 20 TB.

SoftNAS Cloud is purchased through AWS and Azure marketplaces on hourly or annual subscriptions. It has three types of licenses -- Express for 1 TB of storage, Standard for 20 TB, and Enterprise for between 20 TB and 16 PB. The software starts at $158 per year, plus cloud usage fees.

SoftNAS CEO Rick Braddy said the vendor has approximately 500 customers. They include financial news website The Street, which has moved its storage completely to AWS.

"Our original mission was to store mission-critical file data in the public cloud," Braddy said. "We've broadened that to private and hybrid clouds as well from enterprises and service providers."

SoftNAS Cloud competes with the likes of Zadara Storage and NetApp Cloud Ontap, but the gateway puts SoftNAS in a similar position as Nasuni, Panzura and a handful of others.

George Crump, president of IT analyst firm Storage Switzerland, said the file gateway can have different use cases than some of the products already shipping. He said the SoftNAS gateway is best suited to run primary file and home directories in the cloud.

"That puts them directly in competition with Nasuni," he said. "Panzura's file locking makes it more useful for when 100% of data is both local and in the cloud, and that's a different type of customer."

Crump said SoftNAS has come a long way with its software since launching less than three years ago. It is still missing pieces, however, such as global file locking and the ability to access files locally from laptops.

"If they continue to mature the product," Crump said of SoftNAS, "there is a lot of potential there."

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