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Upgrades from Cloud Storage Vendor Nasuni Take Aim at NetApp, EMC

Nasuni, a cloud-based provider of consolidated storage for remote and branch offices (ROBO), today announced Unified Storage, an offering aimed at enterprises looking to centrally manage storage for remote locations while giving all sites access to shared data at local speeds.

Files typically account for 80% of ROBO storage, according to the company, but the rest is in block-based systems. This means enterprises must generally manage multiple storage systems. However, by installing an instance of a Nasuni appliance at each site, remote offices can handle all storage needs under secure, central management, within hours, according to the vendor.

"We've always given you [enterprise] NAS anywhere," says Nasuni CEO and founder Andres Rodriguez. "Now we're giving you NAS and block [storage] anywhere in the world." The core of the company's message is unified storage in ROBO, he says. "I'm a big fan of simplification."

According to the latest InformationWeek State of Storage Survey, 25% of the 313 respondents have cloud storage in their project plans for the next year, an increase from 20% a year earlier, with cloud storage ranked sixth on a list of 15 common storage initiatives. While about 75% aren't yet using cloud services, 44% of those are considering it. Email and archiving are the most common applications for the early adopters.

"This is maybe the ultimate way an enterprise can get into the private cloud business benignly--because remote sites are a universal pain in the behind for everyone," says Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group. "This lets them establish their own private cloud infrastructure service offering simply and inexpensively--taking away a ton of headaches at the same time."

There are three components to the Nasuni announcement: Unified Storage, a cloud-based offering that can support the full range of storage needs encountered by remote and branch locations; a hardware appliance (NF-400) with more than six times the number of spindles, twice as much RAM and two processors that can support three times the workload of the previous model (NF-200); and Active Customer Support to troubleshoot issues and fix problems remotely, as well as integrated antivirus for file storage.

There are a lot of unified storage vendors out there, like NetApp, EMC and HDS, but they focus on the data center, says Rodriguez. He adds that while these vendors may be able to look after a handful of ROBOs, if there are 40 to 50 branches, the economics are crushing.

"The limitation of existing Unified Storage platforms is that customers still need to worry about the traditional tasks associated with storage: provisioning additional capacity, backup and replication," he says. These tasks become extremely complex in global organizations attempting to support many remote and branch offices that require storage infrastructure, but Nasuni consolidates all of these tasks and automatically handles issues like provisioning, backup and replication.

"This makes Unified Storage from Nasuni game changing for IT: It's NAS and SAN from a single controller that never runs out of capacity, needs no backup and can synchronize data with any other location in the world," says Rodriguez. "What we're allowing customers to do is not just unified, but enterprise-class storage to the branch, enterprise-class storage all the way to the edge. And the cost is just the amount of useable data, which is very, very inexpensive."

Duplessie says remote offices have tons of file stuff, but there are also block-based applications, so being able to consolidate everything from the remote side has huge potential. "Exchange is a block requirement, for example. Now I can eliminate having to have any local storage at all. It's a nice move."

The 1U NF-200, which was introduced last year to support up to 300 users, ranges in price from $4,000 to $6,000 for 3 Tbytes or 6 Tbytes local storage cache size. With double the number of CPUs, RAM and cache, the NF-400 features dual 10 Gbit Ethernet ports and supports up to 900 users, with prices ranging from $12,500 to $17,500.