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Lessons Learned About Building an Effective File Data Cloud

by Ken Clipperton, DCIG Lead Analyst, Storage

Nasuni recently hosted Nasuni CloudBound22, a two-day virtual conference. The conference was about “Building Your File Data Cloud” such that the right people have continuous, timely, and convenient access to the right data from anywhere while protecting your organization’s data from all threats.

Presenters acknowledged that the ideal of “Access your files from anywhere and protect them from anything” might not be fully attainable. Nevertheless, every business and IT leader that embraces these goals will enhance the performance of their business while reducing risks to the organization.

This article summarizes key takeaways from the event. Hopefully, it will serve as a quick reference for those of us who attended the event, and as an enticement for others to view one or more of the sessions, now available online.

Intelligent Data Services Replacing Traditional File Storage

Nasuni CEO, Paul Flanagan, made a persuasive case that the next wave of storage infrastructure is replacing traditional file storage with a move to intelligent data services such as file and content analytics, sensitive data search for compliance, in-line detection of ransomware attacks, and tools to rapidly identify the source and scope of the attack to facilitate rapid recovery.

Guidance Regarding the Existential Threat of Ransomware

Ransomware Attack Depositphotos 164603438 L

Multiple sessions focused or touched on the ransomware threat. Unfortunately, threat actors continue to evolve their techniques and technologies. And like many IT solutions, ransomware is now available “as a service.” Therefore, businesses must make cyber security and cyber resilience an ongoing focus.

Scott Lowe, CEO and Lead Analyst at ActualTech Media shared a hard truth: The reality is, prevention won’t work. At some point, you are probably going to fall victim. You will need the ability to recover from a successful attack. Unfortunately, ActualTech’s recent survey research indicated that more than half of all ransomware victims suffered some level of irrecoverable data loss and nearly half indicated that they could not recover all mission-critical systems in one day or less.

Tony Lock, Distinguished Analyst at Freeform Dynamics, urges IT leaders to reframe the cyber security discussion from merely risk management to business advantage. One key is finding a way to bridge an existing budget item to the project. Another key is to tie to new business value.

People recognize now that IT is core to business operations/success, and continuous availability is seen as necessary to business operations. Thus, business leaders are placing new importance on data governance, compliance, and rapid recovery.

Jerome Wendt, President & Founder at The Data Center Intelligence Group (DCIG), pointed out that cyber liability insurance companies won’t pay unless you can demonstrate you have taken the proper steps to protect your data.

He also shared this advice about designing recovery strategies, “He who panics first, panics best. You need to take this seriously. Don’t pretend it won’t happen to you. You cannot just make a backup and think you are OK. You have to take this seriously, now.”

Andres Rodriguez, Nasuni founder and CTO, summarized the key takeaways regarding ransomware at the close of Day One:

  1. The most important lesson: It is not a matter of if, but when a ransomware attack will succeed against your business.
  2. Ransomware happens fast and at scale.
  3. The right focus is a 3-tier defense strategy
    1. Protect – make your data invulnerable
    2. Detect – know as quickly as possible so you can intervene as quickly as possible
    3. Recover – At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is mean time to recovery. How quickly can I unwind from the attack and get end users back into production.

The Challenges of Remote and Hybrid Work

file data cloud envisioned as icons on a globe

Another topic that came up multiple times was the challenge associated with making remote and hybrid work scenarios more productive and protected.

Scott Sinclair, Practice Director at ESG, said, “What truly separates the leaders from laggards is not just a focus on data from a storage standpoint, but data from an accessibility and usage standpoint.”

He identified the pain points for remote work:

#1 Security

#2 Performance

#3 Simplicity

#4 Protection

And he provided this guidance:

  • Simplify via consolidation and centralized control. The more complex things are, the greater the risks to the business. The main way to drive simplicity is around reducing the number of things you have to manage.
  • Reduce the number of things you have to manage by adopting scalable cross-location and cross-cloud solutions
  • Minimize the cost, complexity, and risk of multi-location data access
  • Assume that data will need to be used from multiple locations
  • Empower data usage anywhere it is needed with a single integrated solution
  • There is tremendous value in solutions designed to simplify data storage and access, and at the same time deliver the protection, management, security, and collaboration features to reduce the number of solutions you need.

Microsoft and AWS Praise Nasuni

Representatives from both Microsoft and AWS enthusiastically endorse Nasuni.

“Cloud file data is the best use case for the cloud,” stated David Totten, CTO, Global Partner Solutions for Microsoft, “and Nasuni is the best cloud file data services platform.”

Paul Meighan, Director of Product Management for Object Storage, AWS, commended Nasuni for rapidly adopting ongoing AWS S3 storage innovations and passing the benefits of those innovations on to Nasuni customers.

He also said that Nasuni on AWS can help customers leverage benefits including high performance, petabyte scale, built-in backup, ransomware protection, disaster recovery, global file sharing and analytics with AWS AI/ML services, all at half the cost of traditional on-premises file infrastructures.

Nasuni Customers Discuss Benefits

Aliki Rodgers, Senior Production Engineer, Arsenal Football Club identified the following uses and benefits of Nasuni and its Nasuni Access Anywhere solution:

  • Integrates into existing workflows. Arsenal integrated the solution with their asset management software via API, including sharing files externally. Excellent API documentation is what enabled them to do this.
  • File acceleration really helps upload/download speeds.
  • Nasuni enables end-to-end retention of extended metadata. This reduces the amount of time searching for content.
  • Native multi-factor authentication protects data.
  • Has a direct Slack channel with the support team.
  • Lessons learned: There is a lot of power in the file fabric that, if we had understood, we would have expanded our use more quickly. You can replace a lot of common tools that you might not realize, file uploading and moving of files, CRON jobs, etc. The Nasuni solution provides many opportunities to save money on infrastructure and staff time.

Don Pointing, CTO, Global IT Director for TBWA, a media agency with offices in many countries, indicated that they replaced a large number of on-premises storage arrays with Nasuni virtual appliances. They have approximately 10PB of Nasuni storage now.

“We saved a fortune, which made the finance people happy.“

Beyond direct IT budget savings, he identified several ”big wins”:

  • Unified cloud space
  • Collaboration across space
  • Gains in governance and compliance

Pandemic response: We were already moving toward more people than desks. Lockdowns accelerated that. Our old SMB over VPN approach wasn’t very good, which caused us to look at Storage Made Easy, now Nasuni Access Anywhere, to get faster access. “We can work anywhere now.”

Conclusion and Next Steps

The Nasuni CloudBound22 event was far more than an extended sales pitch for Nasuni products. Instead, Nasuni brought together technology experts, industry analysts, and business technology leaders who shared their expertise and lessons learned about ensuring the right people have continuous, timely, and convenient access to the right data from anywhere while protecting that data from the bad guys.

All Nasuni CloudBound22 all sessions are available on-demand and can be viewed in the “Auditorium” here.

I sincerely hope you will apply the guidance provided by the many experts cited above in your own organization… and soon. After all, “He who panics first, panics best.”

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