Nexsan Unity: Unified Primary Storage, File Sync And Share Combined For Secure Data Access

Nexsan is combining its NST unified storage platform with its Transporter enterprise file sync and share technology to create a solution that allows business data to be used for easy sharing and collaboration from primary storage without the need to send the data over a cloud.

The new solution, Nexsan Unity, is the first iteration of what is expected to be a wide range of solutions that combines file sync and share with data in both the file and block format, said Robert Fernander, CEO for the Campbell, Calif.-based vendor.

Nexsan Unity also works with Nexsan's Assureon object storage solution for long-term archiving of business data, Fernander told CRN.

[Related: Nexsan Steps Out Of Imation's Shadow, Acts Like An Independent Storage Vendor Again]

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The solution is the first to integrate Nexsan's Transporter technology with its NST primary storage solutions. The Transporter business came from Nexsan's late-2015 acquisition of Connected Data, Fernander said.

Unlike most file sync and share solutions, which send corporate data over a cloud, Transporter lets users connect to a broker in the cloud so their devices can locate and access the data without the data being in a cloud. Instead, users collaborate on and share data over the Internet. This works well for such use cases as health care, government and financial companies, Fernander said, asserting that it is much more secure than going over the cloud.

"Transporter is like Dropbox, but is peer-to-peer," he said. "Data doesn’t go across the cloud. Users use the cloud to broker the connection and set up an encrypted private pipe via the Internet to sync and share."

With Unity, Nexsan is also introducing n-way sync, a feature Fernander also called enterprise sync. N-way sync creates a local volume on the Unity platform that acts as a sync volume.

"The volumes can be placed on multiple Unity devices," he said. "So customers can do things like put an object store in one volume, which is then synced to all volumes. Those volumes are all discrete copies of the data, and provide local access to the data for best performance. But if something in a volume changes, the changes are automatically reflected across all the copies."

In the first version of Unity, which Fernander said will be released this quarter, Nexsan is including n-way sync. Customers will have access to the data via a client device or over a WAN.

Next quarter, Nexsan plans to add iOS and Android mobile device access to the data on Unity, he said. By year's end, users should also be able to access the data via a browser using MacOS and Windows devices. "We are confident mobile access in an authorized fashion will become a ubiquitous requirement," he said.

The new Nexsan Unity solution allows customers to set up private clouds for sync and share, said Bill Allen, consultant and chief technology officer at Westlake Technologies, a Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based solution provider and Nexsan channel partner.

"Unity provides the cost benefits of a cloud while making it easier to manage with integrated file sync and share and object storage," Allen told CRN. "Other solutions are a complicated, convoluted mishmash of technologies. That gets expensive for end users, and brings up questions about how manageable they are."

Unity is the latest in a series of major evolutions in Nexsan, which started out as a provider of low-cost, scalable storage but has since introduced HIPAA- and financial-compliance capabilities with its Assureon and file and block support with its NST, Allen said.

"Now look at Unity," he said. "We're seeing a significant change in what Nexsan has become. Unity allows a tremendous increase in performance and helps avoid data bottlenecks. This shows a new maturity in Nexsan, which is providing unique technologies users have not seen before."

Fernander said Unity will be Nexsan's primary storage platform going forward. The company's NST platform will eventually enter its end of life, although the timing has yet to be determined, he said.

Transporter will continue to be available as a stand-alone appliance, particularly for customers who have other primary storage solutions, he said. "If customers want a document folder on a primary storage array to be a sync folder, Transporter can do it," he said. "But with Unity, there's no need for a separate box."