VDI Survey Results Highlight Value-Add of SoftNAS for User Experience

VDI Survey Results Highlight Value-Add of SoftNAS for User Experience

With more and more people working from home during the Covid pandemic, the importance of workplace resources, particularly those that allow us to communicate and collaborate, has become increasingly apparent. For example, an outage in Office 365 recently caused numerous issues with planned meetings over Microsoft Teams, email issues, and other problems. As a remote company, these types of disruptions are a significant disruption to our daily routines.  

Even if we could revert to another tool for virtual meetings or create documents on Google docs instead of Word, the problem was not that we couldnt get things done, but that it didnt feel like we were getting things done. It wasnt familiar; the day felt offThis feeling is also true for poorly configured VDI deployments. Ithe user experience is slow or uncomfortable, productivity will fall significantly.  

Considering that many organizations have invested heavily in tools for remote workers, such as Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), it is vital that rollouts go smoothly and users adopt these changes readily. These investments should not be considered a quick temporary fix. While Covid may not be around next year, the changes it has brought to worklife might well be permanent.  

%

Increase in complete workdays at home

%

Would like mix of post-pandemic and remote/in-office work

%

HR managers who plan to allow for mixed work

For example, Forbes recently posted the number of complete workdays performed at home has increased from 5% to 22% this past year. 66% of Americans agree that they would like a mix of remote and in-office work even after the pandemic. And 90% of HR managers say they plan to allow for more of a mix of remote and office work even after the pandemicIn other words, your VDI solution is not a stop-gap measureit is a permanent shift in the workplace dynamic. 

So how do we ensure that your VDI implementation is ready to tackle not only the pandemic but the post-pandemic paradigm shift?  

User Experience is Key 

Users need to feel that they are NOT working remotely, and their desktops and applications are running directly on their local PC or desktop and not on a remote server. This issue is not just about performance, though this does play a key role. Previously, IT organizations believed that persistent end-to-end performance was only possible via local server resources. In other words, significant investments in centralized servers were a must for VDI.  Or for larger organizations, regional infrastructure hubs to avoid issues such as latency. These infrastructure investments would reach end of life after a few years, and another round of investments would begin.  

VDI in the cloud is infinitely more scalable with a similar performance profile to an in-house solution running on public clouds such as AWS and Azure. However, there is a public perception, due to implementation growing pains, poor planning, or not enough investment, that cloud-based VDI is inadequate, buggy, or slow. A recent survey by ControlUp of 450 VDI administrators identified the critical challenges faced in deploying cloud VDI for various sized companies.   

Slow Login 

The top issue reported was by far excessive login times, cited by 77% of respondents. The perception this generates is that IT organizations are foisting outdated and under-performing hardware on them. But there can be numerous reasons for slow logins, including logon scripts, profiles, and group policies; however, the most significant is the accessibility of userprofiles and the files and applications behind them. To provide a seamless user experience described earlier, in which the user cannot distinguish between VDI and a work PC, a fair bit of data needs to be made readily accessible. SoftNAS provides the solution by storing critical user profile data on high-performance block storage in either AWS or Azure. In addition, this storage can be placed in the region closest to your users, avoiding latency issues. With enterprise-class data-centers storing user profiles, performance may exceed anything provided by a home office solution, especially if users are in rural or very remote locations. 

Application Performance 

The second most frequently identified issue was application performance. Applications within a VDI solution require constant and persistent access to underlying data stores. Performance depends strongly on the availability and persistence of this data. Again, the cloud storage provided to the most frequently accessed applications will largely determine the user experience and can be managed in the same manner as mentioned above – ensure the most frequently accessed data is local and high-performing. For data not commonly needed, lower-cost storage is leveraged.  

SoftNAS can also reduce storage costs by providing deduplication and compression for the data in question. Bear in mind that this can impact compute (CPU) resources required to process the data. A general rule of thumb is to plan for an additional 50% in CPU resources if compression or deduplication is used.  

Home Networking 

Another top reported issue with supporting remote users (for VDI or any remote work scenario) is connectivity itself – i.e., issues with the network at the remote user location. Even with high-quality internet service, there might be numerous users contending for the same bandwidth, particularly during this pandemic. The lack of bandwidth might include children‘s remote learning (virtual video), streaming services such as Netflix, and other such contention. If in a rural location, bandwidth or latency might be an issue in itself. In either case, the best solution is to place required storage resources as closely as possible to the user to improve response time and access. Cloud services such as AWS and Azure are very flexible in this regard. SoftNAS is equally flexible in that VMs are set up as close as necessary to the target users, and the storage used does not affect the licensing cost.  

Conclusion 

ControlUp reported additional issues, and these too can be addressed to some degree by SoftNAS. Still, typically by the exact solutions reported above – slow sessions are solved by ensuring the resources required are made more accessible and served by higher-performance storage as well, for instance. SoftNAS can help implement a solution that best fits the requirements and issues potentially identified and work with you to ensure the solution comes at the best cloud service price point possible. Remote work is here to stay, long after the pandemic. A properly configured VDI solution, underpinned by SoftNAS storage, provides the user experience needed to ready your organization for the transition.  

Buurst’s Core Principles

Buurst’s Core Principles

Building a company requires a great deal of effort and planning and is more than just having a great idea. It requires a unique convergence of skills, insight, and to some degree, business acumen. But none of these things is enough to achieve long-term success. The final ingredient is consistency – you need to define what you want to do with consistent delivery.

Customer and
Partner Empathy

Entrepreneurial
Spirit

Always Learning and Always Teaching

Lead by Example
and Be Accountable

In founding Buurst (formerly SoftNAS), Rick Braddy was unhappy with the cost to performance ratio of contemporary on-premise storage. Knowing firsthand the implementation of such solutions, the strengths that such implementations offered, and the weaknesses (notably scalability), he saw that the cloud would soon be the only solution. The company or person that managed to harness the stability and strength of on-premise solutions and bring it to the cloud would have tremendous success. But we have to ask ourselves – would Buurst still be humming along nine years later without a consistent plan and ideals? 

Customer and Partner Empathy 

Intuiting what the customer needs is the first part of any successful venture. SoftNAS offered an alternative to the high cost of on-premise storage. But if we had stopped there, building a cheap alternative, we would likely not be building a company today. SoftNAS would likely be a small part of a larger companys toolset, sold to the highest bidder within the first couple of years. Luckily, our founder and his burgeoning crew knew that there were other pain points to consider and that listening to the customer would illuminate others.  

Soon, based on customer feedback and personal knowledge of customer pain points, Buurst was working to solve flexibility in many different ways. First, from the outset, Rick wanted the solution to offer native support for all the standard NAS protocols, CIFS/SMB, NFS, and iSCSI. Ideally, the customer would never see a difference between using cloud storage or an on-premise NAS. Next, platform flexibility. On-premise (VMware) support, coupled AWS and Azure support ensured that the majority of customers could find the right cloud storage option for them, as well as the flexibility to get from on-prem to the cloud. Support for both block and object storage further enhanced flexibility for our clients. 

None of these efforts would mean a thing without understanding another core need of the customer, high availability. Without the comfort of data permanence, no large client would risk a move to cloud infrastructure.  

As the company grew, more needs became apparent, such as the need for tier storage or facilitating the transfer of data from on-premise to cloud. Eventually, we would realize that beyond this, a solution to orchestrate and automate the flow of data across an organization would be the next paradigm shift. None of these ideas would have been sought or implemented without empathy for the customer. This same empathy is employed today in helping our partners achieve success. We choose our partners based on the help they can provide to customers. By finding partners whose clients have expressed the needs we have worked so hard to deliver, we help them find success. Clear communication of the benefits we provide and limitations, too, ensures we do not lose our partners’ trust or the clients they support with Buurst technology.  

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Rick Braddy was fresh off a startup when the idea to forge SoftNAS (now Buurst) came to him. He had a skill set that would be valuable to many large companies and could easily find job security and even growth with any of them. But he wouldnt have the freedom to pursue his own goals and would potentially have to move to where the job was and uproot his family. It was by no means an easy decision. Without entrepreneurial spirit, Buurst would have withered on the vine.   

As luck would have it, Ricks entrepreneurial spirit extended well beyond simply the courage to follow through with an idea. He built the company based on it. What better way to pay homage to a decision to go your way than to allow others the opportunity to do so? Employees at Buurst are all entrepreneurs of a sort, having left the standard local office company template for the freedom of working from home. Buursts distributed office model results from Ricks desire to pursue his goals his way, from where he wanted to be. This model is relatively easy to achieve if you are the boss, much less so for your typical office employee. But at Buurst, the office is wherever you are.  

Buurst continues to manifest an entrepreneurial spirit many years after our founding. We have recently spun off a new product, Fuusion. While the feature set of Fuusion is complementary to our SoftNAS product, implementing the product’s features limited its reach, and compromised the flexibility, we strove to provide. Not the flexibility of SoftNAS, but Fuusion. Working with the data orchestration capabilities of Fuusion, it soon became apparent that it needed a dedicated team of its own to improve. It needed to be deployable on any system, with or without SoftNAS. In other words, rather than trade on the good name of our primary product, Buurst needed to take a chance and build something new. 

Always Learning and Always Teaching

Empathy for the customer/partner has an inherent benefit that can stand any organization in good stead. As customers’ needs evolve, so too does the product, the company, and its employees. To meet these evolving needs, which would not be apparent without lessons imparted by our efforts on behalf of the customer, Buurst had to adapt and learn. More than that, we had to want to learn. 

Learning allowed us to do more, be more. In so doing, we became experts in cloud storage and had lessons to impart in return. Education went well beyond simply making potential clients aware of our product and its benefits. Whether a client is new to the cloud and needs to know the differences between block and object storage or other key features, success is dependent on imparting enough knowledge to ensure the customer can define their needs. So not only did we have to want to learn, but we needed to communicate and share those lessons. 

Recent lessons from our Fuusion product have shown us that Buurst has only scratched the surface on what is possible in data orchestration and automation, both in the cloud and on-premises. As we learn lessons from each new client, our goal will always be to forward these lessons to the product and prospective new clients.  

Lead by Example and be Accountable 

Buurst utilizes a highly distributed team, which by definition means that people do not see one another all day at work. You cannot peek over the cubicle in such an environment and ask your neighbor about his progress on the latest bug fix or budget report. So trust, and accountability are vitalEven if you cannot see your peers working, you need to know that they are and are as invested as you are.  

Because we do not see each other in a shared office, Buurst ensures that we see each other regularly, at least virtually. Every week, an All Hands Meeting over Microsoft Teams, iheld with the company, focused on good and bad newsUsually, regardless of the news, there is a good deal of camaraderie and inside jokes, just like a typical office meeting. We also have less formal get-togethers every few weeks, as scheduled by the FUUN committee.” These gatherings include games of bingo and jeopardy, among other activities. By staying connected and informed, we ensure the team is invested and accountable. 

In addition to staying connected, each employee has a stake in the company, receiving shares. Put simply, if the company does well, so do the employees shares. Additionally, employees feel more comfortable speaking out, offering ideas and solutions to problems because they are owners 

Lastly, every week an employee is nominated for Buurster of the week,” announced companywide, along with the nomination reasonsThe announcement is via email; however, time is also allotted in the All Hands Meeting to allow the Buursters team to share a few words extolling the employees virtues. This celebrates the employee’s accomplishments, and it provides inspiration and guidance to the other team members. It shows us what our fellow employees are doing with their day and challenges us to match or exceed it. In essence, it allows every team member to peek over the cubicle and give our friend a fist bump. 

There are numerous ways in which Buurst strives to offer more, do more, and be more for both ourselves and our clients. With our core values guiding us, we hope to grow and learn from every new challenge we face.  

Rick Braddy Talks Data and Edge on The Edgevana Podcast

Rick Braddy Talks Data and Edge on The Edgevana Podcast

Rick Braddy, Founder and CTO of Buurst recorded a new video podcast with Mark Thiele, CEO and Founder of Edgevana on the Edgevana Podcast.  

Time Content

0.29 – 1.48Rick Braddy Introduction and Background
1.48 – 4.07Why customers choose cloud for data and why some leave?
4.07 – 5.58How Buurst perceives edge from a data perspective?
5.58 – 8.01If latency is not key driver for edge, what is?
8.01 – 9.20Lightweight vs Heavyweight at edge?
9.20 – 10.17Will Edge data growth continue?
10.17 – 14.26How can we manage distributed data latency?
14.26 – 17.27How much of Buurst’s business is around tota storage vs data efficiency?
17.27 – 24.42Are there methodologies for assessing return on investment for data?
24.42 – 27.40Open Source Apache NiFi Project Overview and Use by Buurst
27.40 – 30.51Wrap-Up and Buurst 30-Second Pitch

 

The Podcast is also available in audio only  on SoundCloud.

Announcing SoftNAS Availability for RHEL Customers

Announcing SoftNAS Availability for RHEL Customers

Buurst is excited to announce SoftNAS is now supported on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8.2!  All Red Hat customers can now quickly and easily deploy SoftNAS on RHEL, opening up the value of SoftNAS to companies that have standardized on RHEL. 

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.2 adds enhancements to increase user’s overall experience, including security, compliance, monitoring, performance, lifecycle management, and extended developer support.  One of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.2 releases’ significant highlights is the comprehensive security and compliance by implementing new OpenSCAP profiles.  

SoftNAS, an enterprise virtual software NASwhen run on RHEL 8.2 allows you to leverage all of the enterprise benefits of both RHEL and SoftNAS, whether running in the cloud, off-cloud, as a virtual machine, or on physical hardware.    

SoftNAS on RHEL 8.2 provides the high level of consistent performance that enterprise applications rely on.  SoftNAS can improve application storage performance with up to 23x faster throughput, 18x better IOPs, and 24x less latency than other storage solutions. 

Enterprise-class high availability provided by the SoftNAS SNAP HA backed by Buursts No Storage Downtown Guarantee SLA ensures Red Hat Enterprise Linux with 99.999% data uptime.  Additionally, data duplication across zones with automatic failover help SoftNAS and RHEL 8.2 users have availability to data at all times.  

SoftNAS running on RHEL 8.2 can help you manage overall storage costs.  Most NAS storage providers charge based on data capacity, further increasing cost. SoftNAS offers the right blend of price and performance for RHEL 8.2 workloads and applications in the cloud and never charges extra for storage capacity. Users can save up to 80% in cloud storage fees by paying only for the performance they need and not for data capacity or capacity they dont need just to get extra performance. 

Working together, SoftNAS and RHEL 8.2 provide a complete cost-effective storage solution for Red Hat Enterprise Linux users in terms of security, performance, and availability.  For more guidance on smart cloud storage solutions and what they can do for you, contactBuurstorrequest a demofrom our team.  

Instant Cloud Storage Trial on AWS or Azure with SoftNAS

Instant Cloud Storage Trial on AWS or Azure with SoftNAS

Buurst is pleased to announce a new Try It Now feature to get a free 30-day trial of SoftNAS on either AWS or Azure. This new step-by-step guide walks users through the process to create an account on either the AWS Marketplace or Azure Marketplace with an activated SoftNAS solution enabled for cloud storage management.

We offer two videos for users interested in seeing the complete process for either AWS or Azure so you can be sure to understand the requested information needed at each step in the process:

SoftNAS Azure Quick Start Launch Wizard

SoftNAS AWS Quick Start Launch Wizard

PROCESS

To get started, visit the SoftNAS Free Try It Now page to begin the SoftNAS Wizard and enter your contact information so we can pass it along for either the AWS or Azure registration.

Once your data is entered, please select either the AWS Wizard or Azure Wizard. In this blog’s example I will choose AWS.

You are taken to the home page of the Quick Start Wizard (either for AWS or Azure) where we provide a complete step by step video and answers to more questions in our “Looking for more info?” section. Please note that you are not required to enter your name or email address in this page as that information is already captured previously.

Below this is the Launch Wizard button to begin the process:

At this point, you will complete the 8 steps required from AWS to setup the SoftNAS installation on the cloud. The video on the process shown earlier in this blog provides additional information on each of these settings.

After completing these steps, you will have an AWS (or Azure) SoftNAS instance running for your exploration in optimizing your cloud storage. If you have additional technical questions please leverage our Support services or contact our team to setup a Demo of SoftNAS for a complete personal introduction to our solution.

Make Smart Cloud Storage Decisions for your Data

Make Smart Cloud Storage Decisions for your Data

Make Smart Cloud Storage Decisions for your Data

There is a prevailing notion out there that more is better. If you have a problem, throw “more” at it, whether it be man-hours or money. In the IT world you think of bandwidth, memory or storage. While “more” might temporarily solve the problem, over time it becomes increasingly obvious that simply throwing “more” at it is not sustainable. The longer it takes to come to this realization, the more difficulties you will have in reining in the original issue.

This is true of storage as well. With the amount of data that is generated daily in our personal lives and at the office, obtaining more storage seems the simple and easy fix. When your solution to the increasing the amount of data is to buy more storage, there is a tendency to simply put everything in one storage solution, without thought on how to retrieve it when needed, and the speed with which it needs to be retrieved.

However, many of the problems above could be prevented by thinking a little more about the storage itself, rather than expanding the amount of storage allocated. By determining what type of data you are storing, you can select the type of storage that best suits your needs. There are many factors to consider, certainly more than can be covered in this short blog. But at a high level, we will attempt to give you some points to consider.

Data Type and Performance

What type of data are you trying to store? Is it user data that needs to be retrieved instantly by an app? Files that must be stored for compliance reasons that seldom get accessed? Or something in between? Understanding the type of data and the level of accessibility and performance you need is crucial to finding the right balance of performance and cost.

For archive data that is seldom accessed, lower performance object storage might be sufficient. You can also compress and deduplicate the data to save space and reduce storage costs, but be aware that this adds additional overhead on the processing side (CPU and memory) should you need to retrieve it. Be sure that this overhead is factored when determining if the selected storage will meet your needs. For data that must be accessible immediately, block storage is typically preferred. But there are different performance tiers for block storage as well, and you should be aware of the performance characteristics of each.

AWS and Azure both know that one storage type does not fit all, and provide many different storage options. Below are some links to help you choose the right option for you. Each of the below options are supported by Buurst SoftNAS.

Compatibility issues

Regardless what flavor or variety of cloud storage implemented, if it is not compatible with your workload, it is no solution at all. For example, legacy workloads may require additional client-side effort to ensure compatibility. Ideally, your cloud solution, whether it is a SaaS, a cloud NAS such as Buurst’s SoftNAS, or another solution, should provide compatibility for a wide variety of protocols to ensure that the application or workload in question does not need to be changed.

This is the hallmark of a smart storage solution. SoftNAS provides support for iSCSI, CIFS/SMB, and NFS protocols (including older versions), ensuring that in most cases, the application will be able to use SoftNAS hosted storage natively. Because it is based on Linux, it also provides native support for FTP and SFTP file transfer protocols. All of this ensures that little to no effort will be required to connect legacy workloads and applications to AWS or Azure cloud storage.

Scalability

One of the key reasons to move to the cloud, scalability significantly impacts performance. If going through a third party such as a SaaS, this scalability might be hampered by price. In other words, the more storage you use or need, the more you will need to spend.

Due to the challenges of higher memory and CPU requirements for larger deployments, storage is one area in which it is not always cheaper to ‘buy in bulk’. Nor is it always efficient to store everything in one central storage location, considering the challenges of latency between the repository and satellite locations. It may be cheaper and more efficient to determine usage locally, and design smaller cloud repositories in different regions to support these users.

Whatever solution is best for you, Buurst’s SoftNAS is built to scale, able to support petabytes of data, while keeping costs down, as the price of the license does not change based on the amount of storage you require. A single SoftNAS instance can support up to 16 petabytes of storage, and can communicate across regions. It can even be deployed for high availability across regions, to ensure additional redundancy. Any number of SoftNAS VMs can be deployed across a given organization, to serve regional requirements. No matter the storage solution you deploy, this flexibility and scalability must be present for it to be considered “smart” storage.

More Information

For more guidance on smart cloud storage solutions, and what they can do for you, contact Buurst or request a demo from our team.