June 27, 2013, 11:13 AM — Nasuni, which offers cloud integrated storage, has a nifty new feature that lets global companies manage all of their data from around the world on a single screen.
While just about anyone can spin up storage in the cloud from a provider like Amazon Web Services, managing that data for a globally distributed organization can be a challenge. Let's say an organization wants to have a certain set of data available to workers in a location halfway around the world. In normal circumstances, someone at that location would have to download a copy of the file at that site. Using Nasuni's storage service, though, one operations manager can control the storage array for an entire company across the country or globe, dictating which data appears at which sites and who has access to it.
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Nasuni uses a hardware controller that sits at each of its customers' sites and acts as a gateway to back-end public cloud storage from Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. The controller automatically encrypts data as it leaves a company's firewall, so neither Nasuni nor the public cloud provider can ever see the information. Nasuni charges customers a single price based solely on how much data they store in the system; this new feature comes at no additional cost.
Using software that manages the controllers, users can dictate which data is available to which employees and is available at which sites across the company. That software now also enables this new functionality of controlling data across a geographically distributed network of Nasuni controllers from a single device. So an operations manager in New York can control what data is available to the offices in London, for example. Before, someone in London would have had to make those changes.
The key to making this all work is the storage virtualization that Nasuni has developed. The information and data is abstracted completely from the hardware that it runs on, meaning it can be manipulated in a variety of ways, including by securing it through encryption, dictating who can view it or edit it, and even controlling where it is available to users and on which endpoints -- desktops or mobile devices.
Mark Peters, a senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, says the ability to centrally control a distributed network of storage is fairly unique across the industry. "You can just imagine the cloud as your hard drive," he says. "You have full control over what data is on it and who has access to it, but you don't have to worry about any of the management of it."
Nasuni is part of a growing crop of companies that offer cloud integrated storage, Peters says, meaning they act as a gateway to enterprises using public cloud storage services. Using gateways services from providers like Nasuni, Panzura and TwinStrata, customers get the benefits of automatic encryption of the data and easier granular management of the data through an intuitive console.
That's a big deal for companies who don't want to have to set up their own storage arrays with a public cloud provider like AWS, Peters says. A recent survey by ESG, he noted, found that using cloud storage as a way to decrease reliance on buying new hardware infrastructure was one of the top priorities for CIOs this year. Cloud computing provides advantages around cost and flexibility, but many times comes at the sacrifice of companies losing some control of how their data is managed and secured, Peters says. "This makes the cloud a little more palatable," he says.