Briefing Note: CTERA’s Cloud Data Services Platform Transforms SMB and ROBO IT Service Delivery

New cloud technologies and their associated economics have created both opportunities and challenges as organizations wrestle with how to govern, optimize and automate the delivery of IT services. IT managers are seeking new ways to deliver these services from within their firewalls, where they can centrally control access to data and minimize costs. CTERA provides a secure cloud data services platform that enables companies to delivers such IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) offerings by syncing and protecting data to the cloud (the cloud of choice), directly from endpoint devices or using hybrid branch storage gateways.

Cloud Data Services Platform

At the core of this platform is the CTERA Portal Software that provides the central services ‘orchestration’ and data management functions. CTERA’s Portal is designed for at-scale delivery of data services in an automated fashion, where users can be provisioned on the fly and remote devices and gateway appliances can be centrally supported. The whole system integrates into the existing IT authentication and control infrastructure to support policy-based management of users and data. For all of CTERA’s data services, data is source-based encrypted and source-based deduplicated to ensure security and maximum efficiency.

To save on the cost of data center infrastructure CTERA’s Portal is able to store its deduplicated user and office data on object storage. It can either be deployed on storage services such as AWS S3 or IBM SoftLayer or using on-premises solutions such as EMC’s ViPR and ECS solutions, OpenStack, Cleversafe, Caringo, Scality and others. Finally, the entire CTERA system is available as a white-label solution (from web portal to agent to app), something that’s designed for service providers but is also appealing to enterprises that want to leverage a private ‘branding’ to reinforce their internal ITaaS offerings with employees.

Branch Office Modernization

CTERA’s Cloud Storage Gateways are on-site physical (or virtual) appliances that can simplify the deployment of file sharing and data protection for offices typically up to 1000 users and provide a more modern approach to branch office IT services. With raw storage capacities from 8TB to 32TB these gateways can replace Windows servers, tape backup or low-end filers with an all-in-one solution that features NAS access. This means a small company or branch office can consolidate their local IT services, and those they’re paying a cloud provider for, into a single appliance. And unlike today’s cloud caching gateways, CTERA’s gateways store all volumes at the remote office with snapshots efficiently managed in the cloud according to user policy.

Endpoint and Server Data Protection

CTERA offers simple tools that incrementally back up data to either a CTERA Gateway (if the office has a gateway) or direct-to-cloud when the office internet is robust enough or the user is roaming. The CTERA backup offering provides file-level and bare-metal backup of Windows, Linux and Mac endpoints and servers. For Windows servers, CTERA agents support Exchange, SQL Server, Active Directory (AD) Server, SharePoint and Hyper-V.

Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS)

The CTERA Cloud Storage Gateway provides RAID-protected network file sharing for on-site users via CIFS, NFS and AFP protocols, with thin-provisioned snapshots, AD integration and web access using DDNS and WebDAV. For mobile users the CTERA Cloud Portal can replace consumer FS&S products (and the potential problems they cause corporate IT) with an enterprise-grade alternative that supports iOS and Android devices.

This solution includes source-based encryption for in-transit and at-rest data in the cloud (and an option for encrypting data on the local gateway), as well as AD or LDAP single sign-on user authentication and data integrity verification. Other features include multiple folder synchronization for better control, not just “the cloud folder”, and project team collaboration with defined read/write privileges.

Virtual Desktop “My Documents” Storage

Another use case that CTERA has uncovered is complementing VDI deployments to lower the cost of storage and increase IT user data mobility. Most VDI implementations are supported by some kind of high-performance flash or hybrid storage system. By providing a mount point for user shares that’s outside of the VDI system, the CTERA gateway can redirect user files away from premium-priced capacity, store them directly onto low-cost object storage while adding mobility to user data stores via its enterprise file sync and share features.

StorageSwiss Take

CTERA recognized, early on, the potential of an on-site appliance that had local storage capacity, processing power and a cloud gateway. Originally sold as a hybrid cloud backup solution their appliance architecture gave them the platform to deliver other IT services to their existing customer base, such as file sharing and collaboration, anti-virus, data loss protection (DLP), mobile device management and essentially any cloud-based services that became available.

The CTERA Cloud Storage Gateway is an ideal solution for the small office and branch office that needs to upgrade an IT infrastructure that’s too often a collection of point solutions, many of them designed for consumers instead of businesses. With file sync and share services becoming a must-have for companies, CTERA is well positioned to continue their growth, leveraging their AD integration to store data inside the corporate firewall and their ability to simplify IT and deliver enterprise-grade data services to SMBs, mid-market companies and branch offices.

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Eric is an Analyst with Storage Switzerland and has over 25 years experience in high-technology industries. He’s held technical, management and marketing positions in the computer storage, instrumentation, digital imaging and test equipment fields. He has spent the past 15 years in the data storage field, with storage hardware manufacturers and as a national storage integrator, designing and implementing open systems storage solutions for companies in the Western United States.  Eric earned degrees in electrical/computer engineering from the University of Colorado and marketing from California State University, Humboldt.  He and his wife live in Colorado and have twins in college.

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One comment on “Briefing Note: CTERA’s Cloud Data Services Platform Transforms SMB and ROBO IT Service Delivery
  1. Paul J says:

    We cannot trust cloud too much. Binfer is a better way to share data securely. It does not store data on the cloud. The site is http://www.binfer.com.

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