Whether companies like it or not, individuals within their organizations over the last few decades have adopted the technologies that they need in order to more effectively do their jobs. One such adoption has been the use of public file sync-n-share technologies that put data – and the control of it – outside of the purview of corporate IT. In this third and final installment in my interview series with Nexsan’s CEO Robert Fernander, he explains how Nexsan’s UNITY empowers organizations to bring this part of the world of shadow IT back under corporate control.
Jerome: Can you elaborate upon how organizations may implement the Enterprise n-Way Sync feature found on your UNITY array?
Bob: One of the things that is not available in the first release but will be available in the second and third releases, in the third and fourth quarters of this year, is the mobile client access. We talked about the enterprise and having a volume between enterprises that sync.
One of the things that we do today with Transporter is sync to mobile clients. There is an iOS app, an Android app, a Windows app, and a Mac OS app. Those four apps will get rolled out over the next two quarters for UNITY. Universal access to data via a web browser as well as mobile clients apps for iPads, iPhones, Android phones, and Android tablets are available at the end of Q3 so no VPN is needed. Then in Q4 we will add desktop apps for Windows and Mac OS X clients.
It is a roll out in three phases. Today we are delivering enterprise volume synchronization with n-way site-to-site synchronization. Second, we will provide for private cloud access to data via mobile clients and the web, and then third, we further simplify synchronization to Windows and OSX clients with native app support. We would like to do it all at once but it just was not in scope from an engineering perspective.
Once we get to the end of Q3, the ability to have synchronization to these mobile devices in a private cloud context is of great value to the existing customers we have that are buying the NST product today. We have got a ready market there of over 20,000 customers, a large fraction of which have NST.
NST customers can convert their systems via software to get the additional sync and share capabilities of UNITY. IT will be able to maintain security and privacy of the data while workers get the access they need from any location on any device to better do their jobs. We see a quick uptake being planned for UNITY. Then, of course the big win for us is being able to get the attention of competitors’ customers, the Nimble’s, the NetApp’s and others, that service the midrange with this extension of their primary storage to mobile clients.
Jerome: Is this strictly for file protocols such as NFS and CIFS? Or will this capability extend to block protocols such as iSCSI and fiber channel as well?
Bob: We can extend this to block, but typically you have a server or application database running on a logical block volume. If that database is running as a separate file system, then no, we can’t export block using n-Way Sync.
What we typically do for customers in the block world running databases is use a block level replication mechanism that’s native to our system.
Currently Unity is being deployed and tested by a number of customers like Cal Tech to assess the usefulness and viability of synchronizing enterprise volumes across the WAN.
Jerome: Is this feature going to be an upgrade to existing NST systems?
Bob: Yes. We have worked with our channel partners and professional services team to price a conversion kit for existing NST systems. To get interested customers and partners exercising Unity we are offering a free conversion of any NST system under maintenance. We will ask customers interested in the free conversion to 1) pay for the professional services needed to do the conversion 2) keep their service contract in tact and 3) install the conversion kit in Q3.
Internally we think of this as an evolution of storage. We have primary storage today that we are all familiar with inside the enterprise. Then we have cloud based storage mechanisms, at least for consumers and end users, like Dropbox and Box. Those depend on some external storage mechanism and we consider those to be evolutionary. That’s a first step towards providing access to information that’s in your primary storage environment to users through this kind of flexible mobile domain.
We consider ourselves to be the next step beyond Box and Dropbox. People first want to maintain the information inside the file if they can for security purposes. You read the papers like I do. We have the federal government and Apple going at each other over security. It was also recently announced there were 25,000 discovery requests provided to Microsoft and their cloud services to snoop people’s Hotmail email accounts.
There’s a ton of concern growing around public cloud storage as it relates to security. Because of that, we believe philosophically that enterprises are going to want a private cloud solution. If it’s just simply a feature of their primary storage, it’s native, it’s simply a peer-to-peer synchronization between these client apps and your private secure network over an encrypted connection. There’s no data stored in the cloud and the data never traverses the cloud. We think that is where people will eventually want to go. By adding this feature to our primary storage offering, we think it will differentiate it enough to help us grow the business.
In Part 1 of this interview series, Bob provides a peek beneath the covers of the “New” Nexsan.
In part 2 of this interview series, Bob shares some more details about the new Nexsan UNITY product line and how its feature set differentiates itself from other products on the market.