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Oxygen Cloud Breathes Life into Content Virtualization

There is no shortage of storage solutions today that position storage around some form of cloud technology. Love or hate the cloud buzzword, here is something different: Oxygen Cloud.

I got to check out the Oxygen Cloud technology and here are my thoughts. First of all, it's not what you think. In fact, I was struggling to say "what" the Oxygen Cloud is. At first it may just look like another file distribution tool, like DropBox. A closer look and I found that it's got a lot more going on.

The underlying technology is a virtual file system and that's the key to it all. It is the basis for the synchronization, and then a number of management and policy elements kick in. So, in a way it is the best of both worlds. Let's dig into the details a bit. Fig. 1 shows how the components work.

The Oxygen cloud takes a fresh approach in leveraging on-premise storage and authentication.

Figure 1. The Oxygen cloud takes a fresh approach in leveraging on-premise storage and authentication. (Click image to view larger version.)

The critical element here is that the storage delivered to the endpoints -- Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android and HTTPS -- is an instance of the virtual file system that originates from on-premise storage. The virtual file system is very intelligent in that it doesn't deliver a "scatter" of all data to all endpoints. Instead, it retrieves as needed and is authorized for many situations. And here is where the policy can kick in: Certain endpoints and users can have the full contents of the virtual file system pushed out to avoid interactive retrieval.

In terms of the origination, the on-premise storage resource (accessed over NAS or object-based storage protocols) maintains the full content of the virtual file system and allows each authenticated user and authenticated device to access their permitted view of the virtual file system.

The key here is that there is a triple-factor encryption. The virtual file system is encrypted at rest on premise (presumably in your own datacenter) and the sub-instance that would be on an endpoint is encrypted as well. The authentication of a device is encrypted. Lastly, the user authentication process is encrypted both from the virtual appliance locally (again, in your own datacenter) to Active Directory.

There are a number of policy-based approaches as well to ensure that the instances of the virtual file system exist in a manner that makes sense for devices that are floating around the Internet and other places unknown. One of those is a cache timeout where, if the device and user don't authenticate back, the instance of the virtual file system will deny further access. Example here is if an employee is fired from an organization, but the PC never subsequently connects to the Internet. Then, the virtual file system can be set to prohibit the user from subsequent access.

In terms of the endpoints, Windows, Mac OS, iOS and Android are ready to go and for PCs and Mac systems the Oxygen Cloud appears as a local drive. That makes it easy for the user to access the data. Under the hood, it is a virtual file system, yet for mere mortals out in the world we need to make this an easy process.

What do you think of this approach? I like the blend of a smart virtual file system coupled with rich policy offerings. Share your comments on content virtualization here!

Posted by Rick Vanover on 09/12/2012 at 12:48 PM


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