File storage capacity requirements are growing exponentially, and at the same time, these files must be protected and accessible by a range of users across the globe who must also collaborate on these files, in real time. Legacy network-attached storage (NAS) arrays are not equipped to meet these requirements. The cloud stands to help, but only if used strategically. In this blog, we will explore the integration of Nasuni and Microsoft Azure as a solution through combining the advantages of the cloud with the advantages of a local file system.
Microsoft Azure Storage Service
Cloud object storage services such as Microsoft’s Azure Blob services are increasingly being used in place of disk or tape secondary storage infrastructures. They enable the storage manager to limit (or entirely bypass) capacity planning, investing in infrastructure, racking and stacking equipment, and migrating data as capacity requirements increase. These cloud object storage services also improve data consistency and integrity. Also, because Microsoft stores multiple copies of customers’ files in data centers that are spread out around the world, it improves disaster recovery and availability (and again, without the need to purchase and manage additional infrastructure).
Nasuni UniFS® File System
Nasuni provides a software-defined file storage platform that adds value on top of Microsoft Azure in the form of global file access and synchronization for collaboration, and centralized data management. It also facilitates fast backup, recovery and data protection. Nasuni does more than lift and shift a legacy file system architecture to the cloud. It moves the index node (inode) data structure, which stores metadata and other attributes that describe the file, to live natively in cloud object storage while removing limitations resulting from hardware, such as directory sizes and the number of locations that can be integrated. It also facilitates data protection, compliance and continuous versioning; changes to data made across any location are captured in an immutable Write once read many (WORM) format. An infinite, immutable version history is created and users can quickly roll back or recover to any point in time.
Customers can deploy virtual or physical appliances at edge locations to serve as a cache that provides fast access to data that lives in Azure. Customers may deploy appliances on existing virtualized infrastructure (such as a VMware or Nutanix hyperconverged appliances), or they can purchase an appliance from Nasuni, that runs on Dell EMC server hardware. Files live in Azure, but metadata is cached in the Nasuni appliance for fast access. Edge appliances can be centrally managed through the Nasuni management console.
According to Nasuni, its approach of blending edge and cloud resources enables its customers to achieve faster performance on an infrastructure footprint that is only 1/5th of the legacy implementation. Meanwhile, it reduces the volume of data that must be pulled back from Azure, thus helping the organization to save on egress fees. In the event that a disaster is declared, the appliance can rehydrate data from metadata within 15 minutes, according to Nasuni. Users can also spin up the virtual machine in Azure, and have Azure be the disaster recovery site. Nasuni algorithms determine what metadata should be cached, and can also automatically archive data to less expensive classes of Azure storage as it ages – thus further saving on cost. Data retrieval remains rapid due to the on-premises cache. Data is encrypted at rest and in transit with customers holding the key, to bolster security.
Cloud object storage solutions provide capacity scalability, a centralized namespace, granular searchability, a low-cost footprint and data resiliency that are required to meet modern file storage demands. However, they require some help in the form of performance acceleration and enhanced disaster recovery capabilities. Storage managers should consider the integration of Nasuni and Microsoft Azure to modernize their file storage approach.