Dan's Take

Unified Storage That Can Sync and Share

Bob Fernander, CEO of Nexsan, dropped by to provide a company update and explain how his company is addressing a number of enterprise issues. He discussed UNITY, what Nexsan claims is the first unified storage platform that integrates NAS, SAN, object storage, and private cloud synchronization and sharing.

It was interesting to learn that ConnectedData, the supplier of the Transporter family of personal cloud storage systems, had been acquired and is now part of Nexsan.

What Every Enterprise Needs Nexsan believes that midmarket enterprises need the following features to be available, regardless of the access device (PC, Mac, iOS-based and Android-based) or server operating systems:

  • File access and storage for unstructured data, documents, photos, and video
  • Block SAN to support virtual machines, VDI, and databases that is based upon high-speed flash or/or nonvolatile RAM caching
  • Remote and offline access to data and applications for mobile and remote systems
  • Enterprise file synchronization, with simplicity that matches cloud storage services such as Dropbox
  • Data governance tools that address enterprise needs for data retention, audit capabilities and regulatory compliance
  • Tools to address disaster recovery, business continuity and archival storage
Fernander discussed the company's product range and how the company was planning to integrate the ease-of-use, simplicity of management, and other capabilities from the Transporter (see Protecting Public Cloud Data for more information on the basic capabilities of these devices) into their other families of storage systems. This means adding the user interface, management tools and other features found in the Transporter systems into the company's other storage offerings.

Here's what the company is saying about their new offering:

Many siloed storage, data management, file sync and share and security solutions exist to provide for these individual requirements, but are typically cobbled together in costly, inefficient and unreliable ways. Nexsan UNITY addresses all of these requirements in a single unified solution which delivers high performance and multi-site collaboration at LAN speed to support business continuity and disaster recovery processes as well as mobile access to primary storage data.

UNITY's patented technology is designed to support all devices – from mobile devices to tablets, laptops and desktops running Android, iOS, Mac and Windows– and provides a secure connection to data stored and managed within the enterprise totally eliminating the drudgery of using unpopular and aging VPN technologies. Mobile workforces will have the freedom and flexibility to access and share files securely across all of their devices - no matter where they are - for enhanced business productivity and data security.

Dan's Take: the Midmarket Needs Better Storage Solutions
The list of features Nexsan puts forward as "what enterprises need" really only addresses the needs of midmarket companies, remote offices and branch offices of larger enterprises. Large enterprise data centers need more in the way of scalability, integration into enterprise storage management tools and the management tools for major virtualization platforms.

The concept of integrating personal/private/midmarket cloud storage into enterprise storage is a good idea, as long as this integration doesn't become a subtle lock-in to a single vendor's storage products.

Nexsan and a few other competitive offerings, such as LaCie's CloudBox and Western Digital's My Book Live, are providing capabilities that make it possible for individuals or small groups to share storage devices that are accessible from Windows, Mac and a selection of mobile devices.

Offerings such as Apple's iCloud, Microsoft's OneDrive and Google Drive offer support for specific desktop and mobile device storage. To my knowledge, none are offering broad support for all midmarket needs.

A Useful Tool
I spent some time with a Connected Data (now part of Nexsan) Transporter and found that it was a useful tool that backed up and synchronized data from Windows and Mac desktops, as well as making it possible to access and update that data from Android and iOS devices. We even updated a spreadsheet from a movie theater in one test. It worked well.

Adding that front-end capability to high-performance, scalable backend storage systems would be a great addition to the tools used by midmarket companies. I also have little doubt that higher end storage solutions are possible additions to Nexsan's portfolio. I'd like to see the company offer its front-end capabilities in a way that made it possible for enterprises currently using storage from other suppliers to gain the same benefits.

About the Author

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. He has been a business unit manager at a hardware company and head of corporate marketing and strategy at a software company.


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