Buurst’s SoftNAS: Why Now?
Kai Poynting
January 21, 2021

Buurst’s SoftNAS: Why Now?

It is no secret that network infrastructure has been strained due to numerous factors surrounding the Coronavirus outbreak. More users are staying home, shopping online, and entertaining themselves with streaming services. Additionally, a huge number of industries are urging employees to work from home.

As an example of industry impact, an article from Mckinsey & Company recently outlined lessons learned by the Asian banking industry, noting the efforts that helped them achieve success despite the pandemic. In only two weeks, one southeast Asian bank managed to shift “a 125-member product development team… completely off-site over the course of two weeks. The team first implemented no-regrets moves, such as reinforcing best practices in handling data, and then defined a clear set of actions across key operating models to enable fully remote work. The actions were shaped by various business-continuity planning scenarios, ensuring operational continuity while supporting similar levels of productivity.” Another example highlighted was the implementation of a “platoon system” for its 450-member call center, shifting 150 workers to remote work at a time, ensuring that call center employees were not subject to close proximity conditions. This also required separation of duties to ensure the security of sensitive customer information

“Employees working from home handled only new customer inquiries and generic queries to avoid compromising sensitive customer information. Calls that required access to customer information were forwarded to on-premise call centers, where workspaces were altered and partition walls were heightened to increase space between employees.”

Such changes in operational procedure highlight the galvanizing effect on business practices necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic. It also highlights the scale to which these changes occur. Such changes are obviously occurring now all over the globe. The result of such changes is the generation of more and more data, or at the very least, significant redistribution of such data.

The need to be flexible and ready also extends to infrastructure and cloud deployments. Just as Asian banks had to devote time and energy to invest in the infrastructure for its call center agents (VOIP infrastructure in the homes for example) to work from home, and for communication and collaboration tools to shift its product development to remote work, so too do we have to make changes to ensure infrastructure readiness. Cloud adoption was rising greatly even before the pandemic, and this trend is expected to continue even more strongly after. According to Ed Anderson, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner, “The proportion of IT spending that is being allocated to cloud will accelerate even further in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, as companies look to improve operational efficiencies.” However, change is never easy, and cloud adoption challenges need to be addressed. Flexibility, scalability, and high availability are the keys to infrastructure readiness, and all three are and have been at the core of Buurst’s SoftNAS product development.

According to Ed Anderson, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner, “The proportion of IT spending that is being allocated to cloud will accelerate even further in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, as companies look to improve operational efficiencies.” However, change is never easy, and cloud adoption challenges need to be addressed. Flexibility, scalability, and high availability are the keys to infrastructure readiness, and all three are and have been at the core of Buurst’s SoftNAS product development.

Flexibility

Buurst focused efforts early on to ensure SoftNAS’ storage appliance would be flexible and easy to manage. It may seem that shifting data from one environment to another is a simple process, but in reality, it can be a significant challenge, particularly if legacy sources are involved. Some assets can be moved easily, of course, but others often require some sort of mitigation or optimization. Changing operating systems can render some files inaccessible because they’re no longer in a readable format. SoftNAS’ approach is to support numerous file formats, from NFS, CIFS/SMB, to iSCSI, ensuring that applications do not need to be changed in order to access data after a transition.

SoftNAS also supports numerous storage types, both block and object storage. This flexibility allows you to choose the performance level you require, as well as supporting larger pools of data of any type.

Not only this, SoftNAS is platform-agnostic. SoftNAS supports on-premise implementation via VMware, as well as both Azure and AWS cloud platforms. This allows SoftNAS to make the transition from on-premise to cloud simple and easy, or to implement a hybrid solution, leveraging existing infrastructure. Our built-in Lift and Shift feature can make moving data and workloads to the cloud all the more efficient. As an article from Gartner tells us “Organizations embracing dynamic, cloud-based operating models are primed for increased competitiveness, especially in today’s rapidly changing business environment.” SoftNAS enables customers to make the shift to a cloud-based operating model simple, by leveraging and supporting your existing infrastructure, as well as moving new or existing operations to the cloud.

Scalability

If anything has been highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic, it is the problem of scalability. Increased demand for streaming services forced companies such as Netflix, Disney + and others to throttle bandwidth in the early days of the pandemic, particularly in the EU. In addition, shifts in usage became apparent – for example in Britain, BT reported early in the pandemic that daytime usage trended upwards from 35 to 60% as a result of more people working from home. Luckily, their network was scaled to handle such traffic, built to handle evening peak hours dominated by video streaming, video game updates, and the like. This trend has been reported continuously in the months since.

Scalability in a storage solution is also tested in times such as these. With increased internet usage comes increased data generation. Streaming providers are competing to host more content and entice more users, and central repositories need to be created and managed for remote workers to send work-related data, whether this be video content, word or excel documents, pdfs, or any number of formats. This is in addition to the already expanding network of data generating devices due to the Internet of Things explosion occurring even before the pandemic. In the last two years alone, 90% of the world’s data has been generated. 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are produced by humans per day. As of 2020, 40% of data generated is machine generated, rather than human. In short, there is no question that your storage solution will have to scale upwards heavily in the very near future. SoftNAS, with the flexibility to support block and object storage, can scale its storage to the petabyte level, depending on the resources assigned to it, and the performance requirements of your use case.

High Availability

When services go down, customers get irate, and you lose business. This is an age-old truth. If your application is inaccessible, alternatives are sought. If Xbox Live repeatedly goes down, people switch to their Playstation, or consider buying one as their next big purchase, rather than the newest console. If the data required by your service is unavailable, chances are, your service is unavailable too. Or slowed immensely, such as when your grocery store loses power, and can only accept cash transactions for an hour or two. In the on-line world, where everything is within a few clicks reach, this is exponentially more important. If launching a new service, downtime might just be the death knell, particularly when more and more users are seeking new alternatives. Gartner recognizes this by naming operational continuity one of its top recent trends. “IT services must be continuous, regardless of external factors. This expectation changes the traditional role of IT operations, requiring an increased dependence on automation and zero- or minimal-touch maintenance. The benefits of this include increased efficiency, faster workload deployment, reduced costs and consistency across processes.”

SoftNAS offers a patented cross-zone high availability solution, with automatic fail-over and data duplication across zones. With our SnapReplicate™ and SNAP HA™ technology, we ensure your data is accurate and available, and backed by a 99.999% No Downtime Guarantee. Upgrades and maintenance are simple and intuitive, and can most often be performed without compromising your SLA. It is simple to set up, ensures data integrity, and with the right configuration (across zones) builds upon the already resilient AWS or Azure infrastructure, even in the event of a zone-wide failure. When combined with the large capacity and flexibility previously mentioned, SoftNAS offers the perfect cloud storage appliance for nearly any purpose.

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