As it rebrands itself as a hybrid cloud data platform provider, SoftNAS launched three products that it says make it faster and easier to migrate applications to the cloud and provide cloud backup and recovery.
CEO and CTO Rick Braddy founded the software-defined storage startup in 2012. SoftNAS launched its first product, called Cloud NAS, a year later.
The cloud-based object storage supports public clouds — specifically Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure — as well as VMware-hosted private clouds. It allows enterprises to replace hardware-based storage and on-premises network attached storage (NAS), storage area networks (SANs), and file servers with cloud storage.
But over the past few years “we’ve seen this massive explosion of business data,” said John-Marc Clark, VP of product marketing for SoftNAS.
IDC predicts 173 zettabytes (a zettabyte is 1 trillion gigabytes) of data by 2020, driven by connected devices, Internet of Things (IoT), and other data-intensive technologies.
Meanwhile this data is no longer confined to traditional, on-premises data centers as companies increasingly move to the cloud, operating in hybrid- and multi-cloud environments.
“It’s a perfect storm coming together,” Clark said. “And SoftNAS is positioning itself to be the cloud data control layer in the cloud stack. Our roots come from being a NAS filer and we’re evolving to being a hybrid cloud data platform.”
The company announced three cloud data control layer products that work with VMware, AWS, and Microsoft Azure clouds, with Google Cloud Platform support coming in 2018.
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Software-defined storage company SoftNAS released a new version of its SD-storage product that it says provides up to 400 percent faster cloud object storage performance.
SoftNAS Cloud NAS supports Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and VMware vSphere. It allows enterprises to replace hardware-based storage and on-premises network attached storage (NAS), storage area networks (SANs), and file servers with cloud object storage, which can be scaled up to accommodate large workloads and massive amounts of data, said Rick Braddy, CEO, CTO, and founder of SoftNAS.
“Object storage has typically been lower cost, but it has also been lower performance,” compared to block storage, Braddy said. “We’ve figured out how to get highly parallel I/O [input/output], in and out of object storage, so it’s almost the same level of performance as block storage but at the object storage price. It’s a price breakthrough for customers.”
Object storage manages data as objects, as opposed to files or blocks, and is typically used in the cloud. It is ideal for unstructured data such as media and web content.
Block storage is typically used in storage area network (SAN) environments where data is stored in volumes or blocks. In the cloud, it’s commonly used to store persistent data like a data bases and log files, and for disaster recovery purposes.
“The biggest problem we had was moving the data [to the cloud] fast enough,” Braddy said. “It takes a long time to move a petabyte of data.”
To improve the speed performance in the latest Cloud NAS release, the company had to develop its own technology, called ObjFast.
“ObjFast streamlines the I/O so you can get the maximum number of parallel streams in and out at the maximum rate without overrunning object storage in the cloud,” Braddy said. “The difficulty is in moving the data fast enough without breaking the speed limit where you get penalized, and doing it in a highly parallel way so you can maximize throughput.”
Additionally, the SD-storage product expands on-demand marketplace capacities, from 1TB and 20TB to include 50TB, 100TB, 250TB, 500TB, and 1PB. Annual licenses can grow up to 16PB.
Moving disaster recovery (DR) data centers to the cloud is another use case, Braddy said.
“We’re seeing a significant number of companies closing down their DR data centers,” he said. “They like the idea of an elastic DR data center in the cloud.”
Braddy started the Houston-based company in 2012 and launched its first software-defined storage product a year later, “in what was a relatively small niche in the cloud for NAS,” he said.
The company has more than 2,500 AWS virtual private cloud deployments to date, and its customers include Adobe, Boeing, Citrix, Netflix, Nike, Samsung, and Coca-Cola.
“A big deal of us last year was a 50-terabyte deal,” Braddy said. “That was like a record deal for us. This year, we see a new record every quarter and it’s in the petabyte scale. And now we’re hearing the next phase is in the tens of petabytes.”
Data-intensive technologies and workload demand highly scalable storage. Braddy has watched the market for SD-storage grow as companies are moving more workloads — and in some cases everything — to the cloud.
SD-Storage Market ‘Finally Here’
IDC forecasts spending on software-defined storage will grow from about $7 billion this year to $9.1 billion in 2019.
As SD-storage products replace legacy hardware-based systems, many traditional storage vendors like IBM, Dell EMC, and NetApp have added SD-storage to their portfolios.
Braddy lists NetApp is SoftNAS’ biggest competitor but said he’s not worried by traditional storage vendors moving into the SD-storage market.
“We welcome it. Bring it on. We’re just thankful that the market is finally here. We were sitting there for several years going, ‘When are the rest of the big companies coming to the cloud?’ And finally they are coming.”
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The new integrated solution enables high-performance global file locking, file access and sharing for all local users across a global enterprise.
SoftNAS, which makes a software-defined cloud network attached storage system for midrange-size companies, has solved a problem for many smaller IT shops: Those who are used to a data center NAS or a SAN (storage area network) and are coming to cloud environments and finding that those conventional functions are nowhere to be found.
To take this transition up a notch for those struggling to implement global systems, Houston-based SoftNAS announced May 2 that it has joined forces with Talon, a Mount Laurel, N.J.-based provider of enterprise-class file-sharing software for distributed locations, to enable global storage consolidation into an enterprise cloud.
The combination of Talon FAST and the SoftNAS Cloud NAS provides joint customers with an alternative central cloud-based storage namespace that is secure, highly resilient and can grow on-demand, Michael Richtberg, SoftNAS Vice-President of Business Development, told eWEEK.
The new integrated solution, available May 2, enables high-performance global file locking, file access and sharing for all users across a global enterprise, Richtberg said.
Moving Everything to the Cloud Without Re-Engineering
“Our customers are generally looking for secure, easily accessible cloud storage for unstructured data. AWS and Microsoft Azure are our lead partners; what we do is what they can’t do: help customers move to the cloud without having to do any re-engineering,” Richtberg said.
One of the key targets for moving to the cloud are unstructured data stores. The combination of Talon and SoftNAS delivers a petabyte-scale topology for distributed file servers to be consolidated into limitless, highly-available cloud storage, Richtberg said.
Talon FAST enables a global fabric which gives virtually any enterprise location the ability to access and use cloud-resident file shares because they traditionally have on-premises file servers, without changing user experience or workflow. The combination of a distributed network file system, intelligent caching and global locking allows globally distributed enterprises to operate under a central storage system view.
This ability to centralize data has large benefits as enterprises decommission costly-to-maintain file servers around the globe. Talon FAST optimizes the flow of information within the enterprise, enabling all offices to work off the same set of data.
Operate Globally, Think Locally
“Talon gives you what the cloud doesn’t, which is enterprise-class file shares with all the resiliency and performance enhancements you would expect from an on-prem system,” Talon Senior Vice-President Chuck Foley told eWEEK.
“What Talon does is this: Let’s say you are a user in London, and your file shares are somewhere in Azure U.S., for example. You can navigate just like you do today to an engineering directory, go to your projects sub-folders, find Project 123, hit point and click – and that might be a 100GB file or more. That file that is stored and managed in the cloud and locked for data coherency, but the bits can be presented locally while the main file is stored, managed and locked centrally. Any changes or additions to that file are differenced back to the main file in SoftNAS.
“It literally treats every user in the world as if they’re in the same location using the same file server in the basement.”
The SoftNAS and Talon package doesn’t store data at the edge, and it doesn’t replicate data at the edge—the data is all stored in one place: the SoftNAS cloud. Often-used files, however, can be cached in edge devices as needed.
The collaboration can provide organizations with a single software-defined storage footprint, versus the legacy distributed storage architecture which requires localized management, backup, security, and audit for the proprietary hardware footprint in each location.
Talon FAST is available as a site-based annual subscription or as a joint offering with Microsoft Azure Storage and Hybrid Cloud solutions in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace. SoftNAS is available as an annual subscription and on-demand in Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS.
With an eagle eye for the emerging problems of moving current business application storage needs to the clouds come a newly announced partnership between Talon and SoftNAS. Now that the (terrible) puns are out of the way, let’s get into the announcement.
The Cloud Storage of Tomorrow, TODAY!
Cloud storage is pretty cool. It’s scales on-demand, has virtually limitless capacity, reasonably reliable, and cheap to boot. If you were creating a new application for an enterprise, it would probably have cloud storage integrated in, it just makes sense. But for existing applications, it’s a much tougher sell. First, inertia in the enterprise is very real. It’s often the rule of thumb to grind it out with an inferior solution as long as you can, even if grossly inefficient because.. well money. Large organizations slowly go numb to the disadvantages of traditional storage, or just have such a volume of data sitting on NFS shares that it seems impossible to move to the cloud.
Talon and SoftNAS started working together late in 2016 to solve this problem. Their goal is to move traditional enterprise storage to the cloud without making organizations fundamentally rewrite apps, to provide a single software-defined storage footprint.
As far as who’s doing what, in the simplest terms, SoftNAS is leveraging the physical properties of the cloud, and Talon takes care of the edge, solving the last-mile to the enterprise problem. SoftNAS provides the addressable cloud backend for your apps to write to via their Cloud NAS. Talon provides a lightweight VM sitting on your network edge via their Talon FAST “global fabric”. It makes for a potent combination.
The network edge part does some pretty interesting intelligent caching. The idea behind this is to not constantly replicate everything that you need across all your different edge devices, rather to cache just a potion of what you need for local access generally about 2-5% of total storage, and includes metadata to speed access. From a user perspective, it just looks like one mass of addressable storage, you just see a single namespace.
Aside from scale and flexibility, the caching methodology works well for cost savings as well. Since you’re being charged for data egress from the cloud, intelligently caching locally massively reduces the need to pull from storage. Additionally, it’s WAN friendly, since only deltas are sent and received. SoftNAS and Talon are touting their solution as costing half to a third of what traditional on-premises storage would run over three years. What you’re spending in egress and licensing, you’re saving in maintenance, power, and future provisioning.
This partnership seems pretty significant to me. Cloud storage is surely the way of the future, but the enterprise is built on a legion of applications made before that was even a glimmer in the public cloud’s eye. It’s easy for me to sit back and mock organizations for being slow to adapt to a new paradigm. But the truth is doing so requires a significant amount of additional investment that’s often hard to justify. SoftNAS and Talon are wisely providing a way to give the enterprise as it exists today an onramp to cloud storage.
Hybrid Cloud NAS Overview
Businesses of all sizes are experiencing rapid growth of their unstructured data, and more than just traditional user files created by office productivity applications. This growth includes backup data, sensor data and data from internet-connected devices like surveillance cameras. The cloud seems like an ideal destination for this data, but many businesses don’t have the experience or the expertise to get this data to the cloud. The mid-market data center needs a cost effective solution that delivers hybrid cloud NAS storage in an easy-to-consume manner.
These businesses are ideal candidates for a cloud storage gateway, on-premises appliances (software or hardware) that act as a cache or sync to remote cloud storage. Gateways present local protocols that the data center is used to like NFS, CIFS, SMB and iSCSI, and then translates those to a RESTful or Object Storage backend. Because of this, the cloud storage gateway market is expecting a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 54%, according to research firm Research and Markets.
SoftNAS recently announced their SoftNAS Cloud NAS – Storage Gateway to provide mid-market data centers with a cost effective alternative to the traditional cloud gateway. Their solution is a software-defined, hybrid cloud NAS that runs on hardware of the customer’s choice, even as a virtual machine. It can then connect to a variety of backend storage systems including AWS, vSphere, Azure to S3. The gateway automatically caches the new and most active data so that it is available to local users but also safely stored in the cloud.
The SoftNAS Cloud NAS is a robust Cloud NAS offering as well. It provides the features that enterprises would expect like thin-provisioning, instant and scheduled snapshots, space efficient writable clones with SnapClones™, Windows Previous Versions support, RAM and SSD caching, inline deduplication, and data compression. SoftNAS is also highly scalable, each filer can store up to 16 PB of information in the cloud. The File Gateway was part of the SoftNAS 3.3 release, which also includes improved data protection, writeable SnapClones, and AWS cross zone private HA support.
Another interesting option is to use the SoftNAS file gateway with VMware VSAN. SoftNAS complements VMware Virtual SAN with the requisite NAS feature set, combined with unified storage access using NFS and CIFS/SMB with Active Directory integration. It extends the VMware environment to include highly durable cloud storage and provides VMware with the features set described above.
Cloud storage gateways are an ideal first step to the cloud for mid-market data centers. They enable cloud backup without changing software and they provide an ideal way to archive older data to the cloud by just copying it to a network share. As confidence grows the organization can begin to use the gateway as the primary NAS store and potentially eliminate the cost of on-site NAS storage going forward. SoftNAS provides an ideal first step to cloud storage by delivering a package that is easy to access (software download), easy to implement and easy to use.
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The latest figures from public cloud management workload provider 2nd Watch has found a significant uptake in network access storage (NAS) products from customers using Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS usage is up year-over-year.
2nd Watch, which manages more than 10,000 AWS instances for enterprise, put together a scorecard showing the hits and misses of Q414. EC2 remains the most popular AWS service, with 98% of customers using it, just ahead of S3 (97%). Amazon’s SNS push notification service was the next most popular (65%), ahead of hosted message queuing service SQS (46%), and relational database RDS (45%).
Yet it was storage that proved the most interesting entry in this quarter’s scorecard, with three SoftNAS services making the top five product rank. SoftNAS (#2), Cloud Standard (#3) and Cloud Express (#5) all featured, but all behind Barracuda Web Application Firewall which topped the chart. NGINX Plus rounded off the top five.
The majority of users plump for small EC2 types (35%), compared alongside medium (19%), large (17%) and extra large (13%). Performance monitoring analysts Cloud Spectator mused in a January report that EC2 offered “significant” cost advantages over a long term investments, therefore expect this trend to arguably increase in the coming quarters. AWS was also at the summit when CloudHarmony examined the most reliable public cloud providers in 2014.
The average rate for EC2-SQL Server Standard was $0.786, while it was $0.465 for EC2-SQL Server Web. By region, South America ($0.578) was the most expensive, followed by US East ($0.403), EMEA ($0.137), Asia Pacific ($0.135) and US West ($0.125).
Even though EC2-SQL Server Standard was the most expensive on the card, it had dropped from $1.27 in Q314. 2nd Watch attributes this to more companies leveraging the T2 class instance over the traditional M class – and adds that this trend will continue apace for Q115.
Figures from CloudEndure in January found AWS had a 41% reduction in performance issues quarter to quarter during 2014. With these numbers on top, it certainly provides a compelling argument. 2nd Watch has had a busy couple of months itself, announcing its Cloud Factory service to offer a fixed fee migration service to AWS, as well as doubling its revenue in 2014.