Organizations of all sizes want to incorporate the cloud as part of their networked attached storage (NAS) strategy. Using hybrid cloud NAS solutions, they obtain the performance of on-premises storage with the virtually unlimited scalability of cloud storage. However, not all organizations have the same file storage needs. This has resulted in the emergence of at least three hybrid cloud NAS architectures to meet these various organizational needs.
Hybrid Cloud NAS Architectures
Hybrid cloud NAS providers make their solutions available in one or more of the following three configurations for the on-premises portion of the solution.
Physical Storage Appliance
An organization acquires a pre-integrated hybrid cloud NAS hardware appliance equipped with the needed hardware and software. The vendor may provide the appliance or sell it through an OEM such as Cisco, Dell, Lenovo, or HPE. An organization installs it, connects it to a cloud storage provider, and configures its file management policies.
Organizations will find multiple providers that each offer multiple physical storage appliance models in this space. Examples of solutions that organizations should consider include:
- CTERA HC and XC Series
- iXsystems TrueNAS M, R, and X-Series
- IBM FlashSystem
- Qumulo P-Series
- StorONE All-Flash Array.next
- Tintri IntelliFlash H, T, and N-Series
Virtual Storage Appliance
In this configuration, a provider ships its NAS solution as a virtual appliance. This virtual appliance installs as a virtual machine (VM) on a physical machine with a hypervisor (Microsoft HyperV, VMware vSphere, etc.). Some virtual appliances can also deploy to a dedicated server without a separate hypervisor. Once installed, an organization allocates storage, new or pre-existing, to the VM. It then connects the hybrid cloud NAS to a cloud storage provider and configures the file management policies.
Here again, organizations will find multiple providers each with a virtual storage appliance offering. Examples of solutions that organizations should consider include:
NAS Software Bridge
Using this option, a provider ships hybrid cloud NAS software that installs on a new or pre-existing virtual or physical server. An organization first connects the software bridge to a cloud storage provider and configures its file management policies. An organization completes the bridge’s setup by connecting it to a new or pre-existing NAS solution.
Like the other two architectures, organizations will find multiple providers each with a NAS software bridge offering. Examples of solutions that organizations should consider include:
The Important Differentiator
The NAS software bridge option differs in an important way from the physical and virtual appliance deployment options. It connects to and augments an on-premises NAS appliance. It may be a new on-premises NAS appliance; an existing one; or both new and existing NAS appliances.
Further, a NAS software bridge should work with any provider’s NAS appliance. This gives organizations flexibility to use any NAS appliance such as a Windows file server, a virtual software appliance, or a specific provider’s NAS appliance.
Finally, a NAS software bridge deploys more easily into an existing NAS environment. A NAS software bridge effectively converts an existing on-premises NAS appliance into a hybrid cloud NAS solution. As a result, applications and end users will neither see any changes nor will an organization need to make any changes to them.
Make the Best Choice
Your budget, current environment, and objectives will drive the choice between these three hybrid cloud NAS architectures. Use these three guidelines when making your choice.
- If implementing hybrid cloud NAS for the first time on-premises that has no pre-existing infrastructure, a physical storage appliance often makes the most sense.
- If running a largely virtual environment where you already own storage infrastructure, look to select a virtual storage appliance.
- Organizations with a pre-existing physical storage appliance that want to move to a hybrid environment should consider a NAS software bridge. Taking this approach, they can non-disruptively and cost-effectively introduce hybrid cloud NAS into their environment.
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