SoftNAS 5 Webinar Recap on Upgrade Process

SoftNAS 5 Webinar Recap on Upgrade Process

To further promote the new SoftNAS 5 product release, Buurst’s engineering and support teams promoted a webinar to highlight new features and the unique upgrade process. As the underlying operating system for SoftNAS 5 was upgraded to CentOS 8.2, all existing SoftNAS users are required to follow a new process. This new process is discussed in the webinar along with a demonstration of the new tools available from support to simplify the upgrade. 

Previous SoftNAS 5 Release Content: 

If you have any questions on this upgrade process please find information HERE or email 

SoftNAS High-Performance SQL Storage

SoftNAS High-Performance SQL Storage

Many companies are moving SQL Server deployments to the cloud. If you are moving an app that is using SQL Server to the cloud, you will want to achieve the best performance possible, while keeping cost lowSoftNAS can be used in the cloud to optimize SQL performance and free up resources.  By reducing resource load on the SQL Server businesses will benefit with lower SQL licensing cost, and the reduce the cost associated with cloud storage.  

As a unified solution, SoftNAS provides an excellent base for Microsoft Windows Server deployments by providing iSCSI for Microsoft SQL Server, and network file system (NFS) or server message block (SMB) file storage for Microsoft Windows client access. This reduces complications for companies that are migrating from the data center to the cloud. While also enjoying the benefits of dedicated storage channels. 

Take advantage of high-performance storage by using SoftNAS and Microsoft SQL Server together. 

Protect your data and keep your SQL Server highly available while scaling up without limits.  

Microsoft SQL Server datastores consist of two fundamental data structure containers: data files and log files. Storing the data files and log files on separate disk drives distributes I/O activities. Backups should be stored in different storage located at a different availability zone. 

SoftNAS use the concept of a storage pool, which is a collection of storage and cache devices exclusively assigned to the pool. Storage is provisioned in shared file systems or block storage, and it is backed by intent-log and write-cache devices 

SoftNAS allow data on a disk to be compressed automatically and transparently to the application. Various levels of compression are available, with increasing performance impact as the data compression level increases. 

SoftNAS offers a broad range of instance sizes and region availability

It’s important to select the right instance size to configure a storage solution that is the right combination of performance and price for your use case. General guidance and a guide tool are provided to help you select an instance size for your workload to get your project started. Our instance size calculation tool is available directly on our main website: 

For extremely heavy workloads, increase cache memory with “High-Memory Instances” and/or use EBS-Optimized and Provisioned IOPS to provide better control over available IOPS. 

The above tool is designed to help new users find the right initial instance size for their workload quickly and easily. Buurst always recommends further analysis and testing of their selected instance until workload characteristics are fully understood. This will allow the customer to then refine their instance size selection to the perfect balance of performance and cost. 

Available Memory:

SoftNAS uses around 1 GB of RAM for the kernel and system operation. Memory beyond 1 GB is available for use as cache memory, which greatly improves overall system performance and response time – more memory = better performance, to a point. If application workloads involve a high number of small, random I/O requests, then cache memory will provide the best performance increase by reducing random disk I/O to a minimum. If running a SQL database application, cache memory will greatly improve query performance by keeping tables in memory. At a minimum, 2 GB of RAM will yield around 1 GB for cache. For best results, start with 4 GB or more RAM. With deduplication, add 1 GB of RAM per terabyte of deduplicated data (to keep deduplication look-up tables in RAM) 


SoftNAS needs a minimum of 2 CPUs for normal operation. To maintain peak performance when using the Compression feature, add CPUs (e.g.,4 CPU) if CPU usage is observed at 60% or greater on average. 


In EC2, SoftNAS uses Elastic Block Storage (EBS), which are disks running across the network in a SAN (storage area network) configuration. This means all disk I/O travels across a shared network connecting the EC2 computing instance with the SAN. This makes network I/O an important factor in SoftNAS® environment performance. 

Multiple Performance & Scale Options:

EC2 offers Fixed Performance Instances (e.g. m3, c3, and r3) as well as Burstable Performance Instances (e.g. t2) for occasional heavy use over baseline. EC2 also offers many instance sizes and configurations. Consider all potential networking requirements when choosing instance type. Purchasing models include On-Demand, Reserved, and Spot Instances. 

For more information on deploying SoftNAS for High Performance SQL, see the deployment guide.

About SoftNAS Cloud NAS

Buurst SoftNAS is a hybrid cloud data integration product, combining a software-defined, enterprise-class NAS virtual storage appliance, backups, and data movement; and data integration/replication for IT to manage and control data centrally. Customers save time and money while increasing efficiency.

SoftNAS provides customers a unified, integrated way to aggregate, transform, accelerate, protect and store data and to easily create hybrid cloud solutions that bridge islands of data across SaaS, legacy systems, remote offices, factories, IoT, analytics, AI, and machine learning, web services, SQL, NoSQL and the cloud – any kind of data. SoftNAS works with the most popular public, private, hybrid, and premises-based virtual cloud operating systems, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and VMware vSphere.

SoftNAS storage solutions for SAP HANA

SoftNAS storage solutions for SAP HANA

As we all know, one of the most critical parts of any system is storage. Buurst SoftNAS provides cloud storage performance to SAP HANA. This blog post will make it easier for you to understand the options available to SoftNAS and SAP HANA to improve data performance and reduce your environment’s complexity. You will also learn how to choose specific storage options for their SAP HANA environment.

SAP HANA is a platform for data analysis and business analytics. HANA can provide insights from your data—faster than traditional RDMS systems. Performance is essential for SAP HANA because it helps to provide information more quickly. SAP HANA is optimized to work with real-time data, so performance is a significant factor.

Top 5 reasons to choose Buurst SoftNAS SAP HANA

1. Superior performance for processing data
2. Maximum scale to process as much data as possible
3. High reliability
4. Low cost
5. Integration into existing infrastructure

All data and metadata for the SAP HANA system are in shared objects. These objects are copied from data tables to logical tables and accessed by SAP HANA software. So, as this information is grown, the impact on performance grows as well. By using SoftNAS to address performance bottlenecks, SoftNAS can accelerate operations that otherwise might be less efficient.

For example, the copy operation will undoubtedly be faster if you deploy storage with read-cache. Read cache is implemented with NVMe or SSD drives and helps copy the parameters from source tables to specialization indexes. Tables are frequently written, such as ETL operations, the technique of storing data and logs in SoftNAS reduces the complexity and resiliency, which reduces the overall risk for data loss. Cloud NAS can also improve your data requests’ response times and other critical factors like resource management and disaster recovery.

Storing your data and logs volumes on a NAS would certainly improve resilience. Using a NAS with RAID also allows for added redundancy if something goes wrong with one of your drives. Utilizing RAID will not only help to ensure your data is safe, but it will also allow you to maintain a predictable level of performance when it comes time to scale up your software.

Partitioning of data volumes allows for efficient data distribution and high availability. Partitioning will also help you scale up your SAP HANA performance, which can be a challenge with only one large storage pool. Partitioning will involve allocating more than one volume to each table and moving the information across volumes over time.

SAP HANA supports persistent memory for database tables. Persistent memory retains data in memory between server reboots. Loading data requires time to boot and load the data and then refresh the data. With SAP HANA deployed with SoftNAS storage, loading times are not a problem at all. The amount of data you consume will significantly benefit from persistence memory. While reading (basically accessing) records from persistent memory takes a long time, writing to the memory works much better with SoftNAS.

SoftNAS data snapshots enable SAP HANA backup multiple times a day without the overhead of file-based solutions, eliminating the need for lengthy consistency check times when backing up and dramatically reducing the time to restore the data. Schedule multiple backups a day with restore and recovery operations in a matter of minutes.

CPU and IO offloading help to support high-performance data processing. Reducing CPU and IO overhead effectively serves to increase database performance. By moving backup processes into the storage network, we can free up server resources to enable higher throughput and a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

You want to deploy SAP HANA because your business needs access to real-time information that allows you to make timely decisions with maximal value. SoftNAS is a cloud NAS that will enable you to develop real-time business applications, connecting your company with customers, partners, and employees in ways that you have never imagined before.

Three Technology Trends Helping to Revive the Oil and Gas Industry

Three Technology Trends Helping to Revive the Oil and Gas Industry

My career has somehow always aligned with oil and gas technology. From my time at Sun Microsystems to Microsoft to AWS and now Buurst. I can say that 2020 has been one of the most painful years. Starting with a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia followed by a global slowdown from Covid-19 to the reduced cost of competing energy sources. Ouch! So how do we start the recovery?

Here are three important technology trends to help Oil and Gas bounce back.

Trend One: The Cloud

We all know drilling dry holes is no longer acceptable. Leveraging geospatial application technology like Halliburton Decision Space 365® (Landmark), Schlumberger Petrel®, or  IHS Markit Kingdom® have become table stakes to ensuring you not only know the best place to drill, you know the right place to drill.

Most energy companies have invested $10s of millions of dollars into building world-class data centers dedicated to this work. These investments are essential and are of exact strategic value. But the costs keep going up, and you need more and more IT and security people to manage your investment (it’s a dangerous world out there). Worst of all, you get to replace this investment every three years if you want to stay competitive.  What do you do when you don’t have $20M to retool? Today there is an answer: Move the workloads to the cloud.

Why the cloud? You get the fastest and most up to date processing power without the need to buy the infrastructure. Moving to the cloud lets you move your investment from capital expense to an operating expense that you pay for by the hour, all backed and secured by companies like Microsoft (Azure) and Amazon (AWS). Moving to the cloud is happening today, and it’s happening fast. We see our Energy business grow more quickly this year than over the past seven years. There is a tipping point for the cloud and 2020.

Trend Two: Lift and Shift

Saving investment dollars, closing datacenter, and simplifying your IT footprint is a crucial goal of moving to the cloud. Companies often take two approaches. The first approach is to move specific workloads that are data and processing-intensive. Geospatial applications are great examples. The second approach is to focus on closing your datacenters. Many companies have thousands of applications in their data centers, and the prospect of moving these can be daunting. Migrating an application or an entire data center is commonly referred to as Lift & Shift. The good news is that 80% of these apps will go with no or very few issues. So now, what do you do with the 20% of the applications that are hard to move? If the goal is to close the data center, you can’t finish till all the applications are migrated. If the data center is still open, you cant achieve the cost savings. Your IT infrastructure will be more complicated, making the hard to move apps move is essential.

Many companies go down the path of rewriting these hard to move applications, but it’s unnecessary. Mostly these apps don’t work in the cloud because they leverage protocols that are not supported in the cloud or are latency-sensitive. The number one most common protocol that is unsupported in the cloud is iSCSI. There are solutions here, and it’s essential to leverage them for these hard to move apps.  Buurst SoftNAS is a great example.

Legacy SQL Server workloads often fall into this category, and the countless instances across an enterprise could take all your DevOps resources years to rework. Don’t let your DevOps resources work on legacy workloads. These expensive and vital resources should be building the applications of the future. Leverage cloud storage solutions that support the protocols you’re using and move forward.

Trend Three: Cross-platform business partnerships

So this trend is a little controversial but essential. If you ask any cloud vendor about a multi-cloud strategy, they will always tell you just to pick one, and make sure it’s them. There are some excellent reasons to choose one cloud, and it’s worth spending time to look before you make the decision. The trend we’re seeing is to pick a solution that works in different clouds, so moving will not require reengineering your infrastructure.

A VMware hypervisor is a great example. You probably use it in your data center today, so moving it is a straight forward effort. Storage is often overlooked and becomes the “lock-in” element of choice for cloud vendors. Making sure you know what makes a cloud sticky is essential. If you know going in, you can avoid making costly mistakes. Fortunately, there are many great partners like SoftwareONE, Kaskade.Cloud, CANCOM, VSTECS, or LANStatus, to name a few with cloud architects that can help you manage this part of your transition.

BP recently said that oil demand may never rebound to pre-pandemic highs as the world shifts to renewables. I don’t know if that’s true, but for now, there is a clear need to rethink spending and change resources to take advantage of the learning from other industries. No one ever wants to be first to take the plunge. Fortunately, companies like Halliburton, Schlumberger, Petronas, IHS Markit, and ExxonMobil have all moved and are leveraging these strategies. Come on in, the water’s fine.

Do IOPS really matter?

Do IOPS really matter?

From the beginning of the Storage era, almost all storage vendors challenged each other to achieve the highest number of IOPS possible. There are a lot of historical storage datasheets showing IOPS as the only number and probably customers at that time only followed those numbers.

What is IOPS?

IOPS (input/output operations per second) is the standard unit of measurement for the maximum number of reads and writes to non-contiguous storage locations. IOPS is frequently referenced by storage vendors to characterize performance in solid-state drives (SSD), hard disk drives (HDD), and storage area networks. However, an IOPS number is not an actual benchmark, and numbers promoted by vendors may not correspond to real-world performance.

Along with transfer rate, which measures how fast data can be transferred from contiguous storage locations, IOPS can be used to measure storage performance. While transfer rate is measured in bytes, IOPS is measured as an integer.

As a measurement, IOPS can be compared to revolutions per minute (rpm) of a car engine. If a vehicle is in neutral, stating that the engine is capable of spinning at 10,000 RPMs at that moment is meaningless. Without taking into account the data block size (or I/O size), read/write activity, or I/O stream, IOPS as a stand-alone measurement says little.

Do IOPS really matter?

The short answer here is: a little bit”. It is one factor of several other factors. After the data revolution, a lot of things got changed. Now the source of data could be millions of devices in an IoT system, which means there are millions of systems that are trying to Read/Write simultaneously. The type of workloads dramatically varies especially in the presence of caching from write-intensive media solutions like VDI solutions to read intensively in the database world. The time to reach the data becomes extremely important in several time-sensitive architectures like core banking. 

So now the huge numbers measured in millions are nothing to be proud of, so let us check what other factors we need to check before selecting or judging our storage 

How IOPS are measured and do that related to your workload?

Storage vendors used to do their benchmarks in a way that helped them reach a higher number of IOPS, usually using few numbers of clients which might not be your use case, small block size such as 4k which might be much lower than the one you need, random workloads where SSD speed grows 50% Read/Write which also might not be related to for example VDI or archiving workloads. Usually, the reads are much faster than the writes, especially in RAID arrays. Such a type of benchmarking will lead to a huge number of IOPS which might be not relevant to workloads that may need a lower amount of IOPS, but more data written per each IOPS may introduce a game-changing factor that is latency. 

IOPS vs Latency

Latency is a really critical factor, never accept those huge IOPS numbers without having a look at the latency figures. 

Latency is how long it takes for a single IOPS to happen, by increasing the workload the storage hardware including the controller, caching, RAM, CPU, etc will try to keep the latency consistent but things are not that ideal, at certain huge number of IOPS things will go out of control and the storage appliance hardware will get exhausted and more busy, so a delay serving the data will start getting noticed by the application and problems will start to happen. 

Databases for example are very latency sensitive workloads, usually they need small latency [5ms or lower] especially during writing otherwise there will be a huge performance degradation and business impact. 

So if your business is growing and you noticed degradation in your database performance, You don’t only need a storage with higher IOPS rate but with lower latency as well which leads us to another side point which is storage flexibility that Buurst can help you with. Just few steps you can upgrade your storage with whatever numbers that satisfies your workload 


Although the storage supports up to 10m IOPS, but it is almost not usable after 2m IOPS


How to get storage performance that will work?

Generally speaking, any storage data-sheet is not usually meant for you, but it can be somehow relevant and give you an idea about the general performance of the storage especially if it includes: 

1. Several benchmarks based on different block sizes, different read/write ratios, and both the sequential and random workload cases.

2. The number of clients used per each benchmark, the RAID type, and the storage features [compression, deduplication, etc].

3. The IOPS/latency charts for each of the above cases, which is the most important thing. 

That is not all, if you are satisfied with those initial metrics, you are recommended to ask for a PoC to check how the storage works in your environment and in your specific case. 

Buurst will be happy to help you with the sizing and the PoC too with a trial license 

Data Loss Prevention

Data Loss Prevention

Through this post we will discuss more about data loss, which is the worst nightmare in the IT world, and how to protect ourselves in addition to how Buurst can help you keeping your data safe. 

Why we should care?

I believe the below numbers are enough to make us care: 

    • 93% of companies suffering from a catastrophic data loss do not survive – 43% never reopen and 51% close within two years. (University of Texas) 
    • 30% of all businesses that have a major fire go out of business within a year and 70% fail within five years. (Home Office Computing Magazine) 
    • 7 out of 10 small firms that experience a major data loss go out of business within a year. (DTI/Price Waterhouse Coopers) 
    • Every week 140,000 hard drives crash in the United States. (Mozy Online Backup)


of companies suffering from a catastrophic data loss do not survive

Know your enemy!

To know how to protect our data, of course we need to know what to protect it from. There is a wide range of events that can cause data loss. It might be Intentional, unintentional, due to failure, disaster or a crime. we can summarize them in the below points: 

    • Formatted disks/Deleted data that can happen due to human error or an application bug that may wipe out certain data 
    • Data corruption 
    • Catastrophic damage 
    • Corporate sabotage or an angry system admin that intentionally deleted all the data and even the backups on all sites (that happened) 
    • A hacker that gained a root privilege (this also happened). 
    • A virus, malware and ransomware 

No data or business is 100% safe, that is why you must have a backup strategy that can handle all these failures. But what strategy can handle all of that? 

There are several strategies depending on the budget and the criticality of data, one of the most common and somehow successful backup strategies is the 3-2-1 rule, that is acceptable and recommended by wide range of organizations including US-CERT [United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team]

What is a Backup? 

Before digging deeper into the 3–2-1 rule, let us first define what we meant by backup to avoid any misconception in the following sections: 

According to the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA):

a backup is a collection of data stored on (usually removable) non-volatile storage media for purposes of recovery in case the original copy of data is lost or becomes inaccessible – also called a backup copy

From between the lines, that means that a backup is an independent copy of the data i.e. stored on a different media. That is a very critical concept, and we will know why soon. 

The 3-2-1 backup rule 

1. Have at least 3 copies of your data
Three copies mean your original data that you are using plus two additional backups. Usually one copy in hand in case of any localized failure, you can restore it immediately

2. Keep these backups on 2 different media
These backups should be stored on two different media types or technologies since the same media type may have the same life span, and that is risky as you may lose both backups at the same time. The cloud can take care of that as your data is distributed on several medias by default

3. Store 1 backup offsite
This copy should be far away to be safe enough and survive any catastrophes like fires, earthquakes or wars that can remove a certain area from the map. I believe in the future this copy should be sent to another planet or even another solar system!

Backup Myths

Before proceeding to how Buurst can help you protecting your data based on the 3-2-1 rule, let us demolish two popular myths about backup:

1. I have RAID, I am Safe! 

That is a big misunderstanding for RAID, from its name it only cares about fault tolerance which a very different topic than backups which means according to SNIA: 

The ability of a system to continue to perform its function (possibly at a reduced performance level) when one or more of its components has failed. 

Backup is concerned about how to restore back any lost data through wide range of techniques, but it does not care about downtime as far as the data is safe and restorableOn the other hand, fault tolerance cares about business continuity in case of any failures. 

If you lose one disk, RAID is so important to keep your business going, as serving your first copy of data will keep going but it is not an independent copy of data, so it will never protect you from the other failures like data corruption or deletion. 

2. OK, I will take a snapshot

Snapshots are a great components in your backup strategy especially when it comes to replication, but it is not a backup by itself, as it does not create an independent copy, it just refers to data on the same disk, so it can only help restoring deleted data, but in case of data corruption or disks failures it cannot be used as a recovery medium

How Buurst can help you achieve the 3-2-1 backup rule? 

Snaprep, is a technology based on snapshots replicating between two nodes, the snapshot process has zero overhead on the performance and the storage space, it will be sent after compression to another independent node in another availability zone which is a different datacenter. 

Both nodes can have independent automatic snapshot schedule that can protect against data deletion. A SnapClone of any snapshots will allow you to serve/restore the data at the point in time it was taken 

The second node can be a redundant node and can serve the data in case of any failures and that will be discussed in a different article.  

So now we have two independent copies of the data, how about the third one?

You can use the second node as a backup source not to disturb the other node. You can integrate it with any backup solution you have, or you can use a third Buurst node [in a different region] to create a fully independent Disaster Recovery site by replicating the data to it using rsync or zfs send/receive etcThis will allow for a faster access of your data in case of an unforeseen failures which will eliminate time wastage when restoring from tapes (of course it is a time-budget trade off) 

So, by doing that we have achieved the 3-2-1 rule, by having 2 more copies of data one of them in a different region, but the question is: Is the 3-2-1 rule enough? 

Is the 3-2-1 rule enough? 

It will be sufficient in wide range of scenarios, but it will not protect against certain cases, your terminated backup admin got access to the three environments so he can easily remove everything including the snapshots and the DR site. A hacker with the same access can also do the same 

A new intelligent ransomware or virus that we never heard of can also affect all the data copies, and who knows, maybe it is smart enough to understand the snapshots and harm them too, that is why more backup models got introduced to mitigate such problems such as 3-2-2 and 3-2-3 that can be a discussion for another day 

Final thoughts 

There are a lot of data loss reasons and it will keep increasing. Humans are usually the biggest data threat by their intentional and unintentional activities. The race between attack and defense will keep going, so always review/update your risk management plan that will decide your backup strategy but try to avoid too much Paranoia!