Briefing Note: Hybrid Cloud NAS for the Mid-Market Data Center

Businesses of all sizes are experiencing rapid growth of their unstructured data, and more than just traditional user files created by office productivity applications. This growth includes backup data, sensor data and data from internet-connected devices like surveillance cameras. The cloud seems like an ideal destination for this data, but many businesses don’t have the experience or the expertise to get this data to the cloud. The mid-market data center needs a cost effective solution that delivers cloud storage in an easy-to-consume manner.

These businesses are ideal candidates for a cloud storage gateway, on-premises appliances (software or hardware) that act as a cache or sync to remote cloud storage. Gateways present local protocols that the data center is used to like NFS, CIFS, SMB and iSCSI, and then translates those to a RESTful or Object Storage backend. Because of this, the cloud storage gateway market is expecting a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 54%, according to research firm Research and Markets.

SoftNAS recently announced their Cloud File Gateway to provide mid-market data centers with a cost effective alternative to the traditional cloud gateway. Their solution is a software-defined, hybrid NAS that runs on hardware of the customer’s choice, even as a virtual machine. It can then connect to a variety of backend storage systems including AWS, vSphere, Azure, vCloud Air, Hyper-V to S3. The gateway automatically caches the new and most active data so that it is available to local users but also safely stored in the cloud.

The SoftNAS Cloud File Gateway is a robust NAS offering as well. It provides the features that enterprises would expect like thin-provisioning, instant and scheduled snapshots, space efficient writable clones with SnapClones™, Windows Previous Versions support, RAM and SSD caching, inline deduplication, and data compression. SoftNAS is also highly scalable, each filer can store up to 16 PB of information in the cloud. The File Gateway was part of the SoftNAS 3.3 release, which also includes improved data protection, writeable SnapClones, and AWS cross zone private HA support.

Another interesting option is to use the SoftNAS file gateway with VMware VSAN. SoftNAS complements VMware Virtual SAN with the requisite NAS feature set, combined with unified storage access using NFS and CIFS/SMB with Active Directory integration. It extends the VMware environment to include highly durable cloud storage and provides VMware with the features set described above.

StorageSwiss Take

Cloud storage gateways are an ideal first step to the cloud for mid-market data centers. They enable cloud backup without changing software and they provide an ideal way to archive older data to the cloud by just copying it to a network share. As confidence grows the organization can begin to use the gateway as the primary NAS store and potentially eliminate the cost of on-site NAS storage going forward. SoftNAS provides an ideal first step to cloud by delivering a package that is easy to access (software download), easy to implement and easy to use.

SoftNAS offers a free trial download at

George Crump is the Chief Product Strategist at StorONE. Prior to StorONE, George spent almost 14 years as the founder and lead analyst at Storage Switzerland, which StorONE acquired in March 2020. In his spare time, he continues to write blogs on Storage Switzerland to educate IT professionals on all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought-after public speaker. With over 30 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS, SAN, Virtualization, Cloud, and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland, he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration, and product selection.

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