NAS Options for Public and Private Clouds

Public and private clouds can present challenges for file-based applications that use NAS. Here's how several vendors are helping companies meet those challenges.

Tom Trainer

August 15, 2013

2 Min Read
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As companies investigate cloud services, vendors are finding ways to make those companies' NAS infrastructures work with both public and private clouds.

On the public cloud front, one roadblock is that file-based applications running on NAS have to be rewritten to use object storage, which is the common storage mechanism used in public cloud services. Application rewrites can be time-consuming and costly. Even with a lower cost of compute factored in to cloud computing, adoption is stymied when there is cost and excessive lead time to deploy applications.

Vendors such as OrangeFS, TurnKey Linux and Red Hat are targeting potential customers of Amazon Web Services (AWS) by providing file systems that don't require application rewrites. For instance, OrangeFS provides a high performance computing (HPC) file system tuned for rapid access of data. This is typically deployed for uses such as engineer modeling applications, biosciences testing, and weather modeling.

TurnKey lets you deploy NAS quickly in AWS, though it doesn't offer features such as snapshots and remote replication. Red Hat Storage Server lets you deploy NAS in AWS and provides local synchronous replication across Availability Zones and asynchronous replication across regions (regions are separate geographical areas, such as the East and West coasts). This capability enables both business continuity if a zone fails and disaster recovery should an AWS region fail.

Red Hat Storage Server doesn't support snapshots, though the company says this feature is on its road map. Both TurnKey and Red Hat Storage Server are available in the AWS Market Place.

In the private cloud, OpenStack is emerging as an alternative to VMware-based private cloud infrastructure. The OpenStack framework enables you to choose your server virtualization and file and object storage providers. Two innovative companies on the storage side include Druva and SwiftStack.

Druva's InSynch product manages data storage across multiple nodes (data centers). Druva's InSych also provides data duplication with InSynch where only one copy of the data (such as documents and images) is kept for multiple nodes. Data dedupe can shorten backup times significantly. From a security perspective, InSynch uses 256-bit secure sockets layer (SSL) and stores data with 256-bit advanced encryption standard (AES) for data in transit.

Meanwhile, SwiftStack offers a software-based object storage system that serves content directly from storage without the need for additional hardware Web servers.

Additionally, Red Hat Enterprise Storage supports both file and object storage within the OpenStack framework. These storage and storage management vendors offer the use of commodity hardware and enable real cost saving for the enterprise.

Are you using the public cloud or deploying a private cloud? Have you had to rewrite applications to get file-based applications work with object storage? If so, what was your approach? You can share your experiences in the comments section.

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