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Hybrid Clouds: The Best Of Both Worlds?

Hybrid clouds let IT get the cost effectiveness of cloud computing with the security of local storage, but if Egynte's Local Cloud on Network Attached Storage (NAS) software is any indication, mixed clouds could also lead to deployment headache for IT managers.

While some of the greatest enterprise activity of late has focused on augmenting data centers with cloud services, there's need for even SMBs to be able selectively leverage the accessibility and availability of the cloud. The Egnyte Local Cloud on NAS does just that, letting IT use the cloud and local storage. IT can deploy storage hardware on premises, and Egnyte's software synchronizes it with its cloud storage. Thus, corporate users can access local files at LAN speeds, while IT is assured that critical files are also backed up off premises. All files are also remotely accessible from the cloud, so users on the road can get access to files whether or not they're connected to the corporate network. 

Egnyte emphasizes its security measures. IT can decide which files should be replicated up to the cloud. The service also includes a number of security measures:

  • It restricts access by username and password
  • User access mirrors the file structure on the server
  • It encrypts all communications with 128-bit AES
  • It restricts physical access to the data through a tier-1, SAS 70 compliant collocation facility with 24-hour manned security, biometric access control, video surveillance and physical locks
  • It secures all data using redundant independent storage units using RAID
  • It synchronizes all access permissions from the online cloud locally into the NAS device. Active Directory and LDAP integration is available.

At the same time, the hybrid cloud carries its own challenges. Egnyte doesn't yet virtualize NAS storage, so each new NAS device requires an additional drive letter on users' PCs. Run out of storage on one drive, add a new NAS device to another drive, and users will have to toggle between the two to access files stored on premises. The more NAS devices and servers added to the network, the more complex and cumbersome this whole scenario becomes. Files can be moved off premises and into the cloud, but if most of the files need to have an on-premises presence, you quickly run into a navigational nightmare.

Currently, the Egnyte software works with the NETGEAR ReadyNAS series and systems based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Server. Additional NAS device support is planned. Three plans are offered. Professional starts at $15 per user for 20 GB of online storage. Group is $4 per month per user with 11 to 50 users and 4 Terabytes of storage. Enterprise pricing varies and kicks in after 50 users and provides unlimited  storage.