Nexsan Announces Unity NV6000

Nexsan recently announced the Nexsan Unity NV6000. I had the chance to speak to Andy Hill about it, and thought I’d share some thoughts here.

 

What Is It?

[image courtesy of Nexsan]

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again … in the immortal words of Silicon Valley: “It’s a box”. And a reasonably powerful one at that, coming loaded with the following specifications.

Supported Protocols SAN (Fibre Channel, iSCSI), NAS (NFS, SMB 1.0 to 3.0, FTP), Object (S3)
Disk Bays | Rack U 60 | 4U
Maximum Drives with Expansion 180
Maximum Raw Capacity (chassis | total) 1.12 PB Raw | 3.36 PB Raw
System Memory (DRAM) per controller up to 128GB
FASTier 2.5″ SSD Drives (TB) 1.92 | 3.84 | 7.68 | 15.36
3.5” 7.2K SAS Drives (TB) 4 | 6 | 8 | 10 | 12 | 14 | 16 | 18 | 20
2.5″ NVME 1DWPD SSDs (TB) N/A
Host Connectivity 16/32Gb FC | 10/25/40/100 GbE
Max CIFS | NFS File Systems 512
Data Protection: Immutable Snapshots, S3 Object-Locking, and optional Unbreakable Backup.

It’s a dual-controller platform, with each controller containing 2x Intel Xeon Silver CPUs and a 12Gb/s SAS backplane. Note that you get access to the following features included as part of the platform license:

  • Nexsan’s FASTier® Caching – Use solid-state to accelerate the performance of the underlying spinning disks
  • Nexsan Unity software version 7.0, with important enhancements to power, enterprise-class security, compliance, and ransomware protection
  • Enhanced Performance – Up to 100,000 IOPs
  • Third-Party Software Support – Windows VSS, VMware, VAAI, Commvault, Veeam Ready Repository, and more
  • Multi-Protocol Support – SAN (Fibre Channel, iSCSI), NAS (NFS, CIF, SMB1 to SMB3, FTP), Object (S3), 16/32GB FC, 10/25/40/100 GbE
  • High Availability – No single point-of-failure architecture with dual redundant storage controllers, redundant power supplies and RAID

 

Other Features

Snapshot Immutability

The snapshot immutability claim caught my eye, as immutable means a lot of things to a lot of people. Hill mentioned that the snapshot IP used on Unity was developed in-house by Nexsan and isn’t the patched together solution that some other vendors promote as an immutable solution. There are some other smarts within Unity that should give users comfort that data can’t be easily gotten at. Once you’ve set retention periods for snapshots, for example, you can’t log in to the platform and the set the date forward and have those snapshots expire. The object storage componet also supports S3 Object Lock, which is good news for punters looking to take advantage of this feature.

Unified Protocol Support

It’s in the name, and Nexsan has done a good job of incorporating a variety of storage protocols and physical access methods into the Unity platform. There’s File, Block, and Object, and support for both FC and speedy Ethernet as well. In other words, something for everyone.

Assureon Integration

One of the other features I like about the Unity is the integration with Assureon. If you’re unfamiliar with Assureon, you can check it out here. It takes storage security and compliance to another level, and is worth looking into if you have a requirement for things like regulatory compliant storage, the ability to maintain chain of custody, and fun things like that.

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

Who cares about storage arrays any more? A surprising number of people, and with good reason. Some folks still need them in the data centre. And folks are also looking for storage arrays that can do more with less. I think this is where the Nexsan offering excels, with multi-protocol and multi-transport support, along with some decent security chops and an all-inclusive licensing model, it provides for cost-effective storage (thanks to a mix of spinning rust and solid-state drives) that competes well with the solutions that have traditionally dominated the midrange market. Additionally, integration with solutions like Assureon makes this a solution that’s worth a second look, particularly if you’re in the market for object storage with a lower barrier to entry (from a cost and capacity perspective) and the ability to deal with backup data in a secure fashion.

Nexsan Announces Assureon Cloud Transfer

Announcement

Nexsan announced Cloud Transfer for their Assureon product a little while ago. I recently had the chance to catch up with Gary Watson (Founder / CTO at Nexsan) and thought it would be worth covering the announcement here.

 

Assureon Refresher

Firstly, though, it might be helpful to look at what Assureon actually is. In short, it’s an on-premises storage archive that offers:

  • Long term archive storage for fixed content files;
  • Dependable file availability, with files being audited every 90 days;
  • Unparalleled file integrity; and
  • A “policy” system for protecting and stubbing files.

Notably, there is always a primary archive and a DR archive included in the price. No half-arsing it here – which is something that really appeals to me. Assureon also doesn’t have a “delete” key as such – files are only removed based on defined Retention Rules. This is great, assuming you set up your policies sensibly in the first place.

 

Assureon Cloud Transfer

Cloud Transfer provides the ability to move data between on-premises and cloud instances. The idea is that it will:

  • Provide reliable and efficient cloud mobility of archived data between cloud server instances and between cloud vendors; and
  • Optimise cloud storage and backup costs by offloading cold data to on-premises archive.

It’s being positioned as useful for clients who have a large unstructured data footprint on public cloud infrastructure and are looking to reduce their costs for storing data up there. There’s currently support for Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure, with Google support coming in the near future.

[image courtesy of Nexsan]

There’s stub support for those applications that support. There’s also an optional NFS / SMB interface that can be configured in the cloud as an Assureon archiving target that caches hot files and stubs cold files. This is useful for those non-Windows applications that have a lot of unstructured data that could be moved to an archive.

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

The concept of dedicated archiving hardware and software bundles, particularly ones that live on-premises, might seem a little odd to some folks who spend a lot of time failing fast in the cloud. There are plenty of enterprises, however, that would benefit from the level of rigour that Nexsan have wrapped around the Assureon product. It’s my strong opinion that too many people still don’t understand the difference between backup and recovery and archive data. The idea that you need to take archive data and make it immutable (and available) for a long time has great appeal, particularly for organisations getting slammed with a whole lot of compliance legislation. Vendors have been talking about reducing primary storage use for years, but there seems to have been some pushback from companies not wanting to invest in these solutions. It’s possible that this was also a result of some kludgy implementations that struggled to keep up with the demands of the users. I can’t speak for the performance of the Assureon product, but I like the fact that it’s sold as a pair, and with a lot of the decision-making around protection taken away from the end user. As someone who worked in an organisation that liked to cut corners on this type of thing, it’s nice to see that.

But why would you want to store stuff on-premises? Isn’t everyone moving everything to the cloud? No, they’re not. I don’t imagine that this type of product is being pitched at people running entirely in public cloud. It’s more likely that, if you’re looking at this type of solution, you’re probably running a hybrid setup, and still have a footprint in a colocation facility somewhere. The benefit of this is that you can retain control over where your archived data is placed. Some would say that’s a bit of a pain, and an unnecessary expense, but people familiar with compliance will understand that business is all about a whole lot of wasted expense in order to make people feel good. But I digress. Like most on-premises solutions, the Assureon offering compares well with a public cloud solution on a $/GB basis, assuming you’ve got a lot of sunk costs in place already with your data centre presence.

The immutability story is also a pretty good one when you start to think about organisations that have been hit by ransomware in the last few years. That stuff might roll through your organisation like a hot knife through butter, but it won’t be able to do anything with your archive data – that stuff isn’t going anywhere. Combine that with one of those fancy next generation data protection solutions and you’re in reasonable shape.

In any case, I like what the Assureon product offers, and am looking forward to seeing Nexsan move beyond the Windows-only platform support that it currently offers. You can read the Nexsan Assueron Cloud Transfer press release here. David Marshall covered the announcement over at VMblog and ComputerWeekly.com did an article as well.