Avere Cloud NAS Brings Cloud Storage Backend To High-Performance NAS

Avere Systems, a developer of high-performance NAS filers tied to low-cost storage on the back end, this week unveiled Avere Cloud NAS, a technology that works with clouds based on Cleversafe, Amazon S3 and Amazon Glacier for low-cost object storage.

The new Avere Cloud NAS adds the company's FlashCloud software to its Avere FXT series of edge filers so they can be used to store any files on any object storage technology, said Ron Bianchini, president and CEO of the Pittsburg-based vendor.

That includes using private clouds built on the Cleversafe scalable object storage cloud, as well as on public clouds like Amazon Glacier, Amazon's low-cost archiving cloud, Bianchini said.

[Related: IDC: File-Based, Object-Based Storage Growth Far Exceeds Overall Storage Growth ]

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"We've enabled the ability to bring a cloud storage tier to the data center," he said.

Unlike typical NAS solutions, Avere separates the NAS edge technology, which interfaces with applications looking to read and write file data, from the storage capacity. For Avere, the NAS edge technology sits in its FXT series of edge filers, which traditionally sat in front of storage arrays from multiple vendors that provided the capacity, Bianchini said.

With the new Avere Cloud NAS capabilities, solution providers can offer customers a choice of core filer technology on the back end on which to store their files, including traditional storage arrays or public or private clouds, Bianchini said.

It works by caching the hottest data on the edge filer while reducing trips to the core filer. "For every 50 operations going to the edge filer, 49 are turned around and sent back to the user completed," he said. "Only one goes to the core filer to do the transactions."

As a result, the core filers need not be optimized for performance, Bianchini said.

"Customers can use SATA disk, or the cloud, on the back end," he said. "Our edge filers have the go-fast stuff like RAM, flash and SAS disks."

It is a system that works, said Scott Robinson, president of Xioss, a Minneapolis-based solution provider and Avere partner.

"The architecture was designed to put enough capacity on the edge so that over 90 percent of data requests hit in the cache," Robinson said. "That is essential for this technology. If the application has to go over the wall to the cloud too often, the customer experience falls quickly. So it has to have high cache hits."

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With its technology, Avere has built what Xioss' Robinson called a "pretty interesting paradigm."

"You can even use Amazon Glacier on the back for lower cost," he said. "Glacier is not the lowest-cost storage. But customers don't have to manage things like tape libraries, or pay for the power and space they require."

Dave Henry, storage practice lead and virtualization practice lead at Accunet, a Boston-based solution provider and Avere partner for several years, said that in the last year his company has implemented the Avere filers with a major telecom provider to increase their NAS performance.

Henry said he likes Avere Cloud NAS because it provides an easy way to take advantage of cloud storage capacity.

"The cloud industry has matured," he said. "No one talks about whether to add cloud or not. They're doing it."

While the cloud is great for capacity, it is not for performance, Henry said. "That's where Avere Cloud NAS comes in," he said. "The Avere edge filer is the first product I'm aware of that increases the performance of the cloud by offering cache on-premise for users."

The new FlashCloud software is available as an option for new and previously installed Avere edge filers, Avere's Bianchini said. The software costs about 15 percent of the overall cost of the hardware, he said.