How to Leverage AWS or Azure Object Storage For Cloud Hosted Applications

Many organizations are looking to move their applications to cloud providers like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure. Part of the challenge is how to integrate the organization’s applications with native cloud storage protocols. Instead of re-writing existing applications from scratch many organizations are turning to solutions like SoftNAS Cloud® which provides traditional storage protocols like SMB, NFS, AFP (Apple File Protocol) and iSCSI, so that applications can run unchanged in the cloud. One remaining challenge though is the cost of tier 1 cloud storage.

For example, Amazon provides three tiers of storage to its subscribers; Elastic Block Storage (EBS), Simple Storage Services (S3) and Glacier (Amazon’s cold archive tier). Of the three storage tiers most businesses run their applications on EBS (the most expensive of the three storage tiers) to make sure they meet application performance expectations. The problem is there is a significant performance gap between native EBS and S3 storage. EBS is as much as 3X faster in most operations, so while many applications don’t need the performance of EBS they need more than the performance that native S3 provides. S3 is especially challenged when it comes to write IO performance.

SoftNAS® Inc. is adding a new capability to its SoftNAS Cloud software offering, ObjectBacker™ Backend Storage Acceleration with patent-pending ObjFast™ adaptive flow technology. With ObjectBacker, SoftNAS Cloud can write data up to 400% faster than before. The result is the performance gap between EBS and S3 closes significantly. While still not as fast as EBS, S3 with SoftNAS Cloud can host a much broader range of applications and use cases.

For example, when it comes to data protection and backups, most solutions use S3 as a secondary target where read, and especially write performance, are less critical. But with SoftNAS’ ObjectBacker, S3 now becomes a very viable primary backup storage target. Other use cases include: active archive, lift and shift data migration and large-scale content publishing.

More Than Amazon – Object Storage on Steroids

The ObjectBacker technology works across a variety of object stores, both public providers as well as private object storage solutions. One of the hopes of object storage vendors is to replace traditional on-premises NAS solutions. The roadblocks to object storage’s replacement of traditional legacy NAS products have been the lack of traditional protocol support and more importantly the gap in performance. SoftNAS Cloud provides both, traditional NAS / SAN protocol support and a significant increase in performance.

More Editions

In addition to the ObjectBacker technology, SoftNAS is delivering new Marketplace “editions” of its solution, including a free version called the Developer Edition. Each edition is based on capacity and performance. The Developer Edition is free in perpetuity but is limited to 250GB, which should be enough for an organization to test the SoftNAS Cloud solution. The newly introduced SoftNAS Cloud on-demand marketplace capacities are expanded from 1TB and 20TB to now include: 50TB, 100TB, 250TB, 500TB and 1PB with SoftNAS now including 24×7 Gold Level support with Marketplace offerings of 20TB and greater. Annual licenses can grow up to 16PB.

SoftNAS Cloud is available in three editions:

  • General Purpose Edition – Balances cost against memory and CPU resources
  • High Performance Edition – Ideal for read-intensive workloads needing additional compute processing power gained through larger numbers of CPU cores and RAM
  • Extreme Performance Edition – Supports demanding workloads requiring thousands of concurrent filesystem connections and higher speed networking connections

SoftNAS Refresher

SoftNAS Cloud is a complete enterprise-class NAS based on ZFS and hosted in the cloud or placed in front of an on-premises object storage system. It was originally designed as an on-demand solution for companies looking to move existing applications to the cloud; but, has evolved to support hybrid and private cloud / object storage, giving those systems better performance and legacy NAS / SAN protocol support. The solution has a complete complement of capabilities that an organization would expect in an enterprise NAS solution, including: support for both Block and Object backend storage, high availability, block replication, deduplication and compression, encryption (at-rest and in-transit), storage snapshots with rapid recovery, RAM and SSD caching and data synchronization.

StorageSwiss Take

SoftNAS solves two problems; moving legacy applications to the cloud and changing the way on-premises NAS is used. For organizations looking to move applications to the cloud, SoftNAS Cloud allows them to make that migration without changing the application code itself. Migration to the cloud, other than networking, becomes seamless.

The seamless nature of the migration also means the cloud does not have to be an all or nothing decision. Since the underlying protocol is the same, applications can move to and from the cloud as needed, meaning the application can be permanently moved to the cloud or the cloud can be used to overcome peak load situations and even used in a hybrid cloud model where on-premises and public cloud scenarios are combined.

For organizations looking to keep NAS services on-premises, SoftNAS Cloud provides a method to leverage more cost-effective backend storage solutions, like object storage systems. Object storage systems are generally more scalable and less expensive to operate from a cost-per-GB perspective. But they lack the enterprise feature sets IT professionals have come to expect. SoftNAS Cloud not only provides those capabilities, it also enhances write performance, meaning object storage is now appropriate for a broader range of use cases.

Some organizations may use the solution to solve both the cloud migration problem and the on-premises NAS problem. The combination provides the organization a common foundation that enables the movement of applications and data to and/from the cloud as it needs. Essentially SoftNAS Cloud creates a truly hybrid cloud environment.

Organizations looking to move to the cloud or expand beyond the capabilities of traditional on-premises NAS should take a hard look at solutions like SoftNAS Cloud and companies like SoftNAS, Inc.

Eight years ago George Crump, founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal. To educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is and a heavily sought after public speaker. With 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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