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Sphere 3D launches SnapCloud cloud NAS in Microsoft Azure

Sphere 3D SnapCloud presents as a physically attached local NAS for read/write, backups and replication between hardware and cloud instances.

Sphere 3D is moving its NAS to the cloud with SnapCloud, which will be available running in Microsoft Azure in July.

The cloud NAS is part of Sphere 3D's strategy to virtualize its storage hardware stack. Customers are not required to add Sphere 3D NAS hardware or download software upgrades to use SnapCloud.

Sphere 3D started as a virtualization software vendor and picked up Overland's storage portfolio, including SnapServer, SnapScale NAS and RDX QuikStor backup appliances, in an $81 million merger in December.

SnapCloud is a virtual edition of the vendor's GuardianOS. Customers can purchase a license in Microsoft Azure for Sphere 3D cloud storage as an adjunct to their on-premises local storage on SnapServer NAS and SnapScale clustered NAS platforms.

Pay-as-you-go virtual NAS in Microsoft Azure

SnapCloud storage will be available in 1 GB increments and scale to 32 TB per image. The virtual version of GuardianOS will integrate SnapCloud storage with existing physical Sphere 3D storage. Sphere 3D said all its storage can be managed from its Web-based SnapServer Manager orchestration software.

SnapCloud is presented as a physically attached local NAS. Users can read and write to applications, schedule backups and replicate snapshots between SnapCloud and Sphere 3D NAS boxes. Sphere 3D keeps a local copy of data replicated to SnapCloud as a standard feature for rapid recovery.

SnapCloud will be available via the Azure Marketplace. Pricing will be set closer to availability.

SnapCloud use cases could include primary storage, DR and backup

Nilesh Patel, Sphere 3D vice president of product management and marketing, said SnapCloud provides "SnapServer-like functionality" in the public cloud. Primary storage, backup and archive, and disaster recovery are viewed as potential use cases.

"Now our customers have the choice of buying physical SnapServer NAS appliances and firing off a virtual NAS instance in the public cloud. All they do is create a SnapCloud instance in Microsoft Azure. They will be able to access it using a standard NFS or CIFS protocol and start mounting a set of storage pools to application users within minutes," Patel said.

"It appears as if they bought new SnapServer [appliances] and placed them somewhere outside their private network or physical storage environment."

Deni Connor, a principal analyst with Storage Strategies Now, said Sphere 3D wants to capitalize on the growing trend toward cloud-based file storage.

"That gives them a cloud gateway capability so that users can store their data wherever they want. The fact they are allowing file and block access as well as supporting snapshots and replication is important," Connor said.

Patel declined to specify whether Sphere 3D's roadmap includes SnapCloud iterations for other clouds, such as Amazon Web Services or VMware vCloud Air.

"That functionally would be very easy to do, but we believe Microsoft Azure is probably the fastest-growing cloud deployment, particularly for primary storage and enterprise use cases," he said. "This rollout doesn't preclude us from looking at other cloud offerings if customer demand is there."

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