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Snap Server NAS 5.0: The New Shape of Today’s Swiss Army Knife

The Swiss Army Knife’s endearing legacy is that of a tool that has helped everyone from soldiers in the late 1800s to astronauts in the twentieth century deal with whatever situations they might encounter. Of course, part of its appeal is being a low-cost, lightweight, multi-faceted instrument that provides a multiple of options. Much of its cool factor comes from its design to handle whatever challenge an individual might confront.

Today’s SMBs face similar challenges. SMBs are entering the largely unknown worlds of D2D2T (disk-to-disk-to-tape) and network attached storage (NAS), for which they need their own version of a Swiss Army Knife to offset the complexities that these storage environments create. So as SMBs grow their data storage requirements at their main site or expand operations at branch offices, they recognize the need to deploy a single solution that solves a multitude of problems. In essence, they need a Swiss Army Knife approach to data storage and protection at a price point they can afford.

While Overland Storage today announced a new model in its Snap Server line, the 620, the more compelling story is the accompanying feature enhancements that it made to its GuardianOS operating system, which underlies the entire Snap Server product line. Although all these features require more in-depth examination in future blog entries, here are the main ones that caught our attention:

  • Support of Microsoft Windows ACLs. The Snap Server line is based on Linux, so it uses Linux file serving protocols. This is great as long as you are going into Linux environments but that is not always a realistic expectation as most SMBs exclusively use Windows across their entire enterprise. The problem is using Linux file services can result in the loss of Microsoft ACL permissions when Windows clients store files. That changes in the 5.0 release of GuardianOS. Overland Storage made Microsoft Windows ACLs support a priority, so Snap Servers can now preserve ACL security on files and folders by supporting Microsoft’s full set of 30 permission attributes. This is accomplished by expanding the amount of metadata that GuardianOS can retain, so all the Windows ACL metadata now stays with files when they are stored on the Snap Server. In the past, they were dropped when translations occurred from the Windows to Linux file system.
  • Expanded CLI capabilities. Although this may run counter-intuitive in our GUI-filled world, the command line interface (CLI) is alive and well. Overland still finds that many IT administrators use CLI for a variety of tasks (e.g., mounting home directories, scheduling replication tasks, etc). With this release, GuardianOS makes about 80 percent of its GUI functionality achievable through its CLI.
  • NTP Time Synchronization for video surveillance. Recent studies indicate that 50 percent of the video surveillance market consists of businesses with less than 20 cameras. Furthermore, Overland Storage is observing a growing number of customers using its Snap Server line in this capacity. Customers have found Snap Server is a good fit for the high performance and low costs required by video surveillance. A major problem for SMBs, however, is coordinating the time clocks on their video surveillance cameras and keeping them in sync. By adding NTP (network time protocol) support to GuardianOS, Snap Servers can now be the primary source for SMBs to synchronize time for their video cameras across the network. Since a consistent, accurate time is of utmost importance in video surveillance, this feature offers SMBs an economical and practical way to implement it.
  • New replication features. Finally, GuardianOS 5.0 introduces a new agent-based replication feature into Enterprise Data Replicator (EDR) 7.2. This optional component of the Snap Server line enables users to install an agent on Windows, Linux or UNIX servers and then replicate data to Snap Server’s GuardianOS. This is managed with EDR’s new GUI, which displays how the replication is configured and offers one-to-one, one-to-many or many-to-one replication options.

Swiss Army Knives come in all shapes and sizes, but building one in the shape of a storage system has to be a first. While most competitors are focusing only on solving the problems of disk-based backup, Overland Storage is looking at broader set of problems-and solving them in a single package. With the new software features on GuardianOS 5.0 coupled with some new hardware options, Overland Storage makes a solid case for SMBs to position the new Snap Server as their Swiss Army Knife for the growing number of unknowns-storage and otherwise-they need to deal with on a daily basis.


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