Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 7. My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event. Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.
For each of the presentations I attended at SFD7, there are a few things I want to include in the post. Firstly, you can see video footage of the Connected Data presentation here. You can also download my raw notes from the presentation here. Finally, here’s a link to the Connected Data website that covers some of what they presented. Apologies in advance for the number of times Dropbox is mentioned in this post, but it did tend to dominate the discussion on the day.
Data Robotics (Drobo) and Connected Data share some interesting history. You can read Chris’s piece at The Register to get an idea of the timeline, if not necessarily the full story, behind the two companies. Geoff Barrall (@GeoffBarrall) is a really nice guy with a bunch of experience in the storage industry. Here’s a picture of him presenting the company overview.
Here’s the world according to Connected Data:
- 97% of the people using cloud services don’t pay for them;
- The economics are getting worse, not better; and
- It’s a “Race to the bottom”.
In addition to this, customers and enterprises alike have a number of privacy and security concerns when it comes to storing data with cloud storage providers. I can speak from firsthand experience that this is a real issue for a lot of people, regardless of whether we think data sovereignty concerns are legitimate or not.
On the flipside of this, it seems most storage revenue is still in the hardware, with the market growing by 10% annually and pure cloud services having little impact on this number.
So what’s happening in the world of file sharing? According to Geoff, “Dropbox reinvented everything”. As for then and now …
- One file system for everybody;
- Small files could be sent by e-mail, but large ones no;
- It often required access by VPN; and
- IT involvement was required to restore files.
- Everybody organises their own files in a way that makes sense to them;
- Links make sending files to other people simple;
- Files are made available everywhere through syncing;
- Files are available on mobile devices; and
- Everybody can access older version of files and restore what they need when they need.
But here’s the “CIO Dilemma”:
- Users want the Dropbox experience, but companies don’t necessarily want the issues that go with that;
- 43% of enterprise employees are using Dropbox; and
- 70% of enterprises are extremely interested in running cloud storage from their own data centre.
So what is Transporter and how does it solve the problem?
- Private cloud file storage you buy and own like a NAS;
- Works just like Dropbox;
- Connected Data have 12,000 systems in active daily use;
- Dramatically less expensive than public cloud storage;
- Much higher capacity and performance than public cloud storage; and
- 100% private.
It offers a number of the same benefits of public cloud storage, including:
- Public API;
- Synchronise important files like you would with Dropbox;
- Laptops can synchronise from any location;
- Create and access files in the cloud from mobile devices; and
- Access to TBs of files over the internet.
They are also working on an Active Directory connector. The sooner they get that, the better.
There are two streams of Transporter available: Business and Individual. Here’s a press kit shot of one of the Business models.
The Business models offer:
- Dropbox simplicity with native finder and explorer integration, while eliminating the need for VPNs;
- Full IT Control, allowing you to choose the location and redundancy of data, with all files encrypted (AES-256) in transit; and
- A Proven solution, with over 17PB deployed across 27,000 users.
Is this NAS 2.0? Connected Data think it is. I’m not entirely sure that it ticks all the boxes yet. But I’m also not sure that I know what all of those boxes should be. You can read more about the File Transporter for Business here, and download the datasheet here.
There is also a range of products designed for Individual use.
Ease of Setup
I put together a brief article documenting the Transporter Desktop application installation with the sole purpose of highlighting how simple and quick it is to get up and running with the File Transporter (for Individuals). You can find it here. It took me all of 3 minutes to setup, including the time it took to download the application to my laptop.
Thoughts and Further Reading
I’m a fan of the product, at least for individuals. I’ve found it to be awfully simple to setup and start using, and I’m thinking of getting some more to sprinkle around the place.
I’m still not entirely convinced by the business product, but that’s really more because I haven’t had any stick time with the appliance. I think that, given the right sort of business application, it could be a vastly simpler way of sharing data within the enterprise, particularly for unstructured data use for mobile users. But it’s a fairly particular way of doing things, and not everyone is going to be comfortable with users just having at it and sharing files as they see fit. Probably because we, as IT folk, still embrace the idea that we actually have some control over what goes on in the business. And really, I think it’s a good thing that some of that thinking is being challenged. And I think it’s a good thing that IT is getting some opportunity, through this product, to regain some level of understanding of what’s going on, if not getting all of the control back.
I also recommend you read Keith’s excellent background blog post on Connected Data here.