There are several global file collaboration vendors on the market today. These solutions are designed to replace legacy network attached storage (NAS) systems. As the global file collaboration moniker implies, these systems allow the widespread distribution of files. The solutions typically leverage cloud storage as a central storage point and as a means to distribute data to edge devices located at an organization’s various offices around the world. These edge devices act as a cache so that users in those offices can access the files they are working on instantly without cloud latency.
Global file collaboration solutions have matured over the years and much more than just data distribution. They provide data protection, practically eliminating the need to backup unstructured data and they provide version control, making sure that one user’s changes don’t wipe out another’s. Recently these solutions have added a global file lock feature that further protects version authenticity by allowing on one user to make changes to a file at a time.
Despite these advances, there is room for improvement. One of the leaders in the Global File Collaboration market, Nasuni, recently shipped version 7.1 of its hybrid cloud solution to address these areas of development.
Nasuni 7.1 Enterprise Ready Global Collaboration
One of the challenges with a global collaboration is how quickly can the edges be updated with the most recent copies of data. The problem is that when a user makes a change on an edge device in San Francisco, that change has first to be copied to the cloud and then propagated to edge devices that need the update. For small changes, these updates today are relatively quick, but changes to large files, large blocks of data or the net new addition of a new block of data can take some time.
Faster Data Distribution
Nasuni performs its propagation via a series of volume-based snapshots with changes sent to the cloud and then those changes sent to the respective edge devices. To speed up the propagation of new data or data modification, Nasuni now processes snapshots in small directory “shards” instead of entire volumes. These smaller snapshots can be processed in parallel, reducing snapshot processing time and enabling data to be propagated across Nasuni Edge Appliances more quickly, and giving users in different locations faster access to files. Making sure multiple sites have the latest copy of data is especially crucial for the enterprise, which deals with larger data sets and potentially a higher number of remote locations.
Redundant Global File Lock
Global file lock is a key capability for enterprise file collaboration. In fact, other than the data distribution mechanism itself, it may be the most important. In most cases, the process in-charge of file lock runs in the cloud. The problem is that if the cloud server running the file lock process or the region that server is in goes down, then the file lock service also goes down, which could lead to users not being able to access data. In the 7.1 release, Nasuni makes its global file lock service redundant and multi-region. Cross-region replication with failover in less than 3 minutes enables a lock server in another region to resume the service if a failure occurs in the original region.
Leveraging Enterprise Storage Assets
Nasuni delivers edge devices in two forms. One is a turnkey appliance that includes storage capacity; the other is a virtual machine that enables the customer to allocate some of the on-premises storage they already own to the edge cache. With the 7.1 release, the edge VM can create its cache from multiple on-premises storage systems. The customer can now repurpose more of its already paid for hardware and create very large edge caches which minimize the risk of a cache miss.
But Wait There’s More
There is a host of other new capabilities in the 7.1 release, all important to the enterprise including; RESTful Management API, LDAP support, Azure Government validation, API support for third-party audit solutions like Varonis, NFSv4 encrypted connections and improved handling of legacy Windows permissions. All of the features add up to a product that is more than ready for the enterprise use case.
We’ve been tracking Nasuni since it first launched. It has evolved from an interesting cloud gateway solution to an enterprise-class global collaboration solution. With its capabilities, enterprises have a legitimate alternative to legacy NAS. Any organization with multiple offices and the need to seamlessly work on documents between those offices should give Nasuni strong consideration as compared to continuing down the standalone NAS strategy.