Some storage architects have been looking at object storage as the unstructured data heir apparent to legacy network attached storage (NAS). Object storage is cost-effective, scales well and has rich capabilities for data retention and perseveration, but it is incompatible with traditional data center protocols like SMB and NFS. Many object storage vendors provide a gateway or translation layer to facilitate communication with modern object protocols. Where most systems fall short is performance. There are times where unstructured data needs to be accessed and operated on very quickly. Most object storage systems can’t keep up.
Bringing High Performance to Object Storage
Where most NAS to object gateways fall short is their primary purpose is only to make the translation between NAS and object storage. For some organizations, that is all they need. For others, they need the same or better performance than they have with their current NAS environment.
Organizations that need high-performance NAS will either forgo the cost savings of object storage or stand up a separate object storage tier just for that use case. IT is left with the challenge of supporting an additional storage infrastructure and figuring out how and when to move data from the primary NAS storage system to the object storage system.
Developing a High-Performance NAS Front-End with an Object Storage Back-end
What IT needs is a system with a high-performance NAS front end and an object storage backend. The front end will accelerate active data while leveraging object storage for cost-effective long-term storage of data as its access rate declines. Ideally, this design would also integrate communication to public cloud storage like Amazon S3. The problem is most NAS vendors don’t want to give up the capacity sales of the back-end storage to concentrate solely on the high-performance storage tier.
The Avere-SwiftStack NAS/Object Match
The Avere/SwiftStack relationship is an example of vendors uniting to deliver customers what they want. Avere Systems develops a high performance NAS front end, with a global file system. It can encompass NAS, Object Storage and Cloud Storage.
The Avere NAS front end is equipped with enough RAM and flash to provide high-performance results to applications that demand high performance on unstructured data. But the solution gets its performance from more than just using flash instead of hard disks. The file system itself is optimized to deliver very high performance.
The Avere NAS engine can then work with SwiftStack or other object storage solutions to deliver a very high-performance front end to the object layer. Now the organization can process against its unstructured data set without worry for performance. Avere has continuously demonstrated performance benchmarks that place in the upper end of pure NAS solutions. The Avere solution will de-stage data from its NAS front end to object storage as needed.
Avere can take data movement a step further by also integrating cloud connectivity. As a result, data can move from high-performance NAS to on-premises object storage to cloud-based, cloud storage, automatically based on IT policies.
We discuss the Avere/SwiftStack solution on our webinar “Amazon RE:Invent for Storage Professionals – Three Capabilities to Look For”. In this webinar, we talk about the current state of Amazon storage, explain the differences between Amazon’s storage offerings and how to best take advantage of them.