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Cloud

Cloud Storage
At a glance
ProductNasuni Cloud Storage   [Website]
SummaryVirtual appliance for cloud storage with local cache, backup and recovery, encryption, and compatibility with an existing on-premise storage setup
Pros• Combines local file access with automatic cloud backup
• Acts like shared / mapped drive to users
Cons• Needs IT admin who understands virtual machines
• Not remotely accessible
• No plans under 1 TB

Typical Price: $300

Features
Private Sharing
Y
Share Groups
Y
Backup
Y
Search
Y
Syncing
Y
File versioning (number)
?
File versioning (days)
?
File size limit (GB)9999
Account Types
Unlimited
N
Free
N
Free Trial
Y
Home
N
Business
Y
Monthly Billed
Y
Yearly Billed
Y
Min. Limit (GB)1000
Max. Limit (GB)9999
Free space (GB)0
OS
Windows
Y
Mac OS
N
Linux
Y
Updated 6/28/2011: Web browser access

For small businesses, one of the easiest cloud services to understand and get value from is storage services.  However, there are many different types of storage services available – virtual network drives, collaboration and sharing folders, desktop and server backup.  These types group into two general categories.

The first is a cloud based drive that is accessible anywhere by users that you designate.  Examples include DropBox, Box.net, Amazon S3.  The second type is pure backup in the cloud, which takes periodic snapshots of your local data from a computer or server and copy them to the cloud.  Common examples of this type are Mozy, Carbonite, SugarSync and Jungle Disk

Nasuni fits into the pure backup category since data cannot be accessed outside of your company network.  However, it operates differently in that Nasuni is not meant to automatically back up a computer or server.  Nasuni creates a shared folder that all users must map to just like a regular local file share.  This Nasuni virtual file share is then periodically backed up into the cloud.  The only way users can access this data outside the company would be via VPN to the company network. 

Nasuni concept

Nasuni is a unique hybrid of on premise and cloud-based storage.  It can replace your existing on-site file share with one in the cloud, solving issues related to service uptime, capacity expansion, and recovery after a failure.  However, you still need an on-premise server to run Nasuni, with enough storage for a local cache of your most frequently-accessed files.

Nasuni’s quoted a cost of $300 per month for the first 1 TB. The buy page on Nasuni's site actually quotes a monthly rate of $0.15/GB with a $300 minimum. But this is changing in July to an annual per TB rate.  This type of pricing model makes Nasuni more appropriate for a company’s long term storage needs, not the more common pay-as-you-go cloud storage. 

Also changing in July is the option to choose your own cloud provider or bring your own cloud storage provider.  Nasuni currently lets you use AWS, AT&T Synaptic Storage as a Service, Nirvanix, Peer 1 Hosint, Rackspace and Windows Azure. After July, you will need to move to Nasuni’s preferred provider as part of your license for the Filer.

Installation and Setup

Nasuni Filer is a virtual machine that is installed on a server inside the business network with your current on-site storage.  The virtual machine is initially about 270 MB in size and you install it on an existing hypervisor or virtual machine software. 

Nasuni Filer block diagram

Nasuni supports VMWare (ESX, ESXi), Microsoft Hyper-V, and Xen.  I tested with VMWare Workstation, which is compatible with ESX, but not supported by Nasuni in a production environment. 

When you run Nasuni on your hypervisor, all you see is a simple network configuration screen to select DHCP or static IP.

Nasuni Network Configuration screen

Once the virtual machine is started, an administrator opens a web browser to connect to the Nasuni appliance and uses the GUI to configure and manage Nasuni.  Initial configuration involves selecting a cloud provider.  Amazon S3 was the only option available for this trial license.  This option is likely to go away following a July 1 release 

Nasuni storage provider selection

To get started, you must create a file share, which is what end users then map to as they would map to a local file share over CIFS or NFS.  This has many of the same properties of a local file share on a Windows or Linux Server.  A name is provided, subfolders for shares can be created, folders can have distinct permissions, and they also be marked as hidden or read only. You also specify a quota to limit the size of the cloud storage