“NAS-up” Your Hyper-converged Infrastructure or SAN with NexentaStor (and get hybrid cloud, too)

By Michael Richtberg, Nexenta Advisory Board Member

It’s a great day when you get a deal on something you really need. Getting the most out of your existing IT infrastructure can really help you afford adding other business critical investments instead of duplicating something you already own. In the case of hyper-converged infrastructure or SAN block storage, you can increase the usefulness of these investments by adding full NAS capabilities without adding more hardware by using Nexenta’s leading storage software solution, NexentaStor.

If you picked one of the excellent options available today to address high performance storage like an all-flash array or the flexible scale out option of hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI), then you’ve already got the baseline to enable a full service SAN andNAS protocol storage system. Most of the HCI and SAN options available today provide block only protocols like iSCSI or Fiber Channel (FC). Adding the SMB and NFS protocols normally provided by a separateNAS storage system adds more expense, complexity, and hardware. Nexenta offers a better option that transforms your SAN/HCI investment into a NAS using software only.

Adding the full enterprise-class NAS capabilities to an existing investment in HCI or SAN hardware creates a full service solution to expand your usefulness to applications or users that need file services. Common use case examples include providing user file shares and VDI profiles, centralizing branch office file content, back-up applications, and line of business applications.

Some resourceful IT teams may turn to a DIY option like using a Linux or Windows server to present NAS protocols leveraging block storage LUNs. While it addresses the protocol requirement, it adds the complexity of using a general purpose operating system and all of the lifecycle patching that goes with it. Instead, NexentaStor provides a fit-for-purpose storage system that specializes in providing full-featured enterprise NAS capabilities including all of the advanced data services. By simply provisioning a low overhead virtual machine (VM) for NexentaStor, you get a software-defined storage solution that adds all of the NAS protocol interfaces, plus:

  • Advanced caching algorithms for higher performance
  • Lifecycle management (cloning, provisioning, snapshotting)
  • Full ACL and AD user management
  • Data efficiency services (inline data reduction)
  • Full data resiliency (HA, RAID, replication, copy-on-write file system, & 256 bit checksum on all data)
  • QoS throughput quota control
  • HDD or SSD media options
  • Integrated vCenter management and unified management of multiple NexentaStor VMs using NexentaFusion

NexentaStor uses the physical storage capacity presented via VMware’s VMDK interface. The VM hosting NexentaStor turns this capacity into the useful NAS interfaces presented as SMB, NFS or even iSCSI protocols and operates as a virtual storage appliance. A NexentaStor vCenter plug-in provides a seamless integration interface for VMware administrators for a simplified management experience.


For customers using multiple HCI clusters, such as branch office locations, having separate file services enabled by NexentaStor are easily unified for centralized management using NexentaFusion. The same applies for scenarios where multiple SAN deployments may require separate NexentaStor VMs for NAS services. NexentaFusion provides management consolidation, extensive analytics, and health monitoring from a single pane of glass regardless of location.


As public cloud becomes a common option for off-site data protection or extensibility, Nexenta offers the flexibility to leverage AWS using NexentaCloud. Sharing the same excellent code used in NexentaStor, NexentaCloud runs on AWS to create a private extension of your on-premises SAN or HCI systems. Consider the simplicity this offers for automating off-site replications or snapshots using the standard features of NexentaStor. The option of using NexentaCloud also provides the ability to supplement your on-premises storage with additional capacity via AWS.  NexentaFusion pulls all of the NexentaStor and NexentaCloud capabilities together into a single unified administration tool.

In summary, adding NexentaStor to your SAN or HCI systems provides a cost effective, software-only solution that adds all of the enterprise class NAS features you need without adding additional stand-alone systems. NexentaStor provides all of the enterprise features you expect using an extremely efficient virtual storage appliance that simply occupies a virtual machine on existing systems. Leveraging the capabilities of NexentaCloud, we extend deployment options to the public cloud for greater flexibility with simple unified management.

For more information, please see our NexentaStor Product Page or contact us for a follow-up sales conversation.

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Posted in cloud, NAS, Software-defined storage, Uncategorized, Virtualization

NexentaCloud Complements On-Prem NexentaStor for Hybrid Deployments

By Michael Richtberg, a Nexenta Advisory Board member and former VP of Strategy and Corporate Development at SoftNAS.

Thousands of Nexenta customers have come to trust our open-source driven software-defined storage software that enables a truly hardware independent storage solution. We offer full enterprise class data services for industry standard NAS and SAN protocols, which have become table stakes, used by virtually all organizations to run their business applications. All of these on-premises qualities found in our flagship NexentaStor solution are now available to our customers via the public cloud with NexentaCloud, running on Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The world of data services remains fundamental to the on-going operations of our business world. The inventory of existing applications and accompanying data will remain long past retirement of most of you reading this blog. Leveraging existing assets in the new public cloud IaaS platforms allows enterprises to gain excellent infrastructure flexibility, but there may be a need for more functionality.

Today’s on-premises NAS and SAN storage systems have evolved over years. Optimizations in data services like snapshotting, cloning, replication, compression, and numerous performance elements are almost taken for granted as core features for storage systems. As you enter the public cloud infrastructure, you may find “storage” but most of these advanced features, and even the protocols you’ve come to expect, just aren’t available on the public cloud storage systems.

NexentaCloud comes to you as a complement to the industry leading NexentaStor software-defined storage product. NexentaCloud brings you the same hardware flexibility but with the added ability to host your NAS/SAN on AWS. Supporting industry standard protocols, you can now use existing, unaltered applications that need SMB, NFS, or iSCSI protocols. Our “no data left behind” offering lets you create virtual storage appliances in just a few clicks using the AWS Marketplace options, available in various capacities.

What about hybrid?

This is where the real rubber meets the road! Not everyone is ready to make the shift to a full blown cloud only environment. In fact, most will find hybrid is the ideal use case for a long time. Through the unified management and analytics tools of NexentaFusion, you can see and adjust your on-premises and cloud deployments in a single pane of glass. If you need to adjust the data storage location for optimizing cost, performance, or geo proximity, then NexentaFusion provides the ideal solution for hybrid deployments. NexentaFusion can run on-premises or on AWS and it’s included for free with NexentaCloud! Concerned about over-spending or zombie workloads that keep running up your cloud tab? NexentaFusion helps you monitor activity and analyze your utilization for optimizing your storage deployments with ease.

NexentaCloud opens up your storage and data management possibility to best accommodate your needs for flexible data location and expansion. Taking advantage of different media and storage possibilities, Nexenta provides excellent cost and performance combinations for primary and secondary storage use cases.


At Nexenta, we’ve heard your requests for enabling flexible, agile, and extensible storage systems. Join us in the journey to the cloud!


For more information, visit us at https://nexenta.com/nexentacloud.

Posted in Uncategorized

Employee Perspective: Why Legal Professionals Should Embrace SDS

photo-1463527882365-18201e85a091Photo by Sanwal Deen on Unsplash.

The legal profession traditionally moves very slowly when it comes to new technologies. Some might even say that attorneys have a difficult time changing. They prefer technologies tested repeatedly before adopting them. However reluctantly, the legal profession has finally agreed that the internet is here to stay and that perhaps this cloud-computing thing might be of great help in a various number of tasks.

The only industry known for more paperwork than the legal profession is the federal government, and that might be a toss-up. Hence, this need to store and quickly access this information is where software-defined storage solutions can help the legal profession. Along with the growing need to be able to store the generated paperwork the legal profession produces, the modern workplace has also created a need for distributed computing. Attorneys may need to be able to work from home when their child is sick and cannot go to school. Clients want to be able to e-sign documents. Immigration attorneys file court documents and immigration applications with the click of a button. Defendants upload lawsuit documents to the cloud and share them with their attorney. Companies working on an M&A rely on the search capability of their computers to find requested documents in a timely manner. The new millennials in the office worry about how many trees die every time they print another document. All of these changes create digital paperwork, and it has to be stored somewhere.

Racks of servers have started to replace the ubiquitous filing cabinet. The main needs in a law office for digital storage include – security, ease of use, fast, and redundant. Software-defined data storage meets all of these requirements. The ability for a law firm’s systems administrator to create a private cloud with the flexibility to use whatever hardware fits their needs, while saving costs with Nexenta is huge. In addition, it can be scaled. A small town firm might just have a few terabytes of data. And, a large busy firm, who had just digitized fifty years’ worth of files, can scale the solution to store many petabytes of data. Both firms trust that the technology they are using will not corrupt and cause them to lose information. The legal profession is finally ready for the future of easily searchable and secure software-defined data storage solutions.

-Mavis Yee, Chief Administrative Officer & General Counsel

Posted in Corporate, Uncategorized

Employee Perspective: How to Build a Thriving Storage Ecosystem

Infrastructure leaders face the daunting task of keeping up with the business at the same time dealing with a technology landscape that is changing at a relentless pace.

Gone are the days when the only thing we had to manage was the data center. Today’s businesses are demanding that infrastructure leaders orchestrate internal and external systems and services in an efficient and effective manner.

The one thing we can count on in our line of work is that everything in our environment will land into one of three system states:

  • Legacy systems – Those that you just can’t seem to get rid of. They are getting more expensive by the day and are distracting from other work.
  • Steady State – The core production systems that are running your business and need most of your attention.
  • Inbound Projects – The laundry list of requests for resources to support initiatives ranging from the well thought-out and resourced, to the unfunded science project that failed to account for any of the supporting infrastructure.

You can survive by hunkering down and holding projects at bay, but let’s face it; that is a very limited survival strategy. The other option is to chose to thrive by building an ecosystem that is designed to facilitate change. Position yourself as a pragmatic visionary that cannot only keep your infrastructure running but you can also leverage new technologies to deliver a dynamic and cost effective ecosystem.

Having seen many different people and organizations trying to solve the same problems over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that a keen understanding of flexibility is something that all successful infrastructures leaders have in common.  By building an ecosystem that accounts for the smooth transition through the lifecycle, successful infrastructure leaders reduce operational friction, freeing up resources to support the emerging technologies. Having worked with and observed many successful infrastructure leaders over the years, I have noticed that even the best of them struggled with a lack of flexibility in their storage environments.   The industry has come along way with compute and network by realizing much of the flexibility potential that disciplines have to offer. Storage however, seemed to be held hostage by proprietary systems that had no interest of playing well within the ecosystem. Being a major line item in any budget, this lack of flexibility left most infrastructure leaders frustrated, me included. Then, along came Nexenta.

Nexenta is the global leader in Open Source-driven Software-Defined Storage- what we call Open Software-Defined Storage (OpenSDS). We uniquely integrate software-only “Open Source” collaboration with industry standard hardware-centric “Software-Defined Storage” (SDS) innovation.  The OpenSDS model finally gives infrastructure leaders the flexibility they need to deal with the onslaught of the hybrid-cloud revolution, Big Data and AI just to name a few.  Instead of guessing which legacy storage array (handcuffs) to buy you can now service the majority of your needs through a common and expansive product portfolio:

When we talk about flexibility, simplicity is often the key. Looking at what is needed to support the dynamic ecosystems, it’s important to understand that in it’s simplest form the majority of the data is going to land on block, file or object storage somewhere. With the OpenSDS model you can meet a wide variety of use cases by modifying the underlying hardware but still have common operations across all platforms. As your needs change the storage can be adjusted to accommodate those needs without a wholesale change to your infrastructure. Additionally, as you settle into your consumption and usage patterns you can tune the underlying hardware that best supports your use case. Nexenta’s SDS solutions are just in time to solve your problems, and are made for you.

-Rick Hayes, VP, Customer Service 

Posted in Uncategorized

Employee Perspective: A Multi-Protocol Solution

After three and a half years at Nexenta, I joined another storage software company, an early stage start up. It was all very exciting and seemed like an amazing opportunity for me to share my software-defined storage skills and knowledge to help customers be successful and grow the company. Unfortunately, after four months I parted ways due to several factors.

At first, I was really impressed with the work the engineering team had done to build a software-defined storage (SDS) product with such intentionality. However, there were several factors that I began to question:

  1. It’s still hard to convince customers to change from old habits to SDS.

Software Defined Storage isn’t the new buzz word it once was. Companies can find it a difficult paradigm to accept when it’s compared to appliance-based storage. Humans don’t like change, even if it’s a good kind of change. So it takes a lot of effort by a sales team to help bridge that gap of doubt. Customers want to see demo’s, proof of concepts (POCs), technical deep dives, customer references, the list goes on and on. And it’s all reasonable. When faced with something different and new, many customers want to be thorough to ensure that you’re making the right choice. Nexenta is the leader is SDS, with a 6000+ customers deployments that run their products. Any new customer can have the confidence that they aren’t the only person on the planet running SDS- and that they were in fact choosing the right solution as many enterprises are making the switch.

  1. SDS is perfect for large quantity of storage.

Specializing in all-SSD storage arrays that were software defined was initially an interesting concept, as I thought by leveraging SATA based SSDs you could help adopt an all-ssd platform at a reasonable cost. Unfortunately, NAND flash market and SATA SSDs are not significantly cheaper than SAS SSDs (in some cases they’re more expensive). All SSD prices are only getting higher. On the other hand, spinning drives couldn’t be any cheaper. Software-defined storage makes the most sense in high capacity use cases such as archive, backup, and file servers. These are all use cases that don’t require the fastest performance but do require good enough performance. The fact that Nexenta can drive down the overall cost of storage is a major bonus. This is Nexenta’s bread and butter.

  1. Hardware Certifications.

HCL list allow customers to take and combine parts together to form a franken-build. This gives flexibility to keep costs low and/or maximize performance, but it leads to the unfortunate side effect of unstable systems. Certain SAS cards don’t work well, network card drivers aren’t stable, the list goes on and on. Nexenta uses a reference architecture where builds are validated through the major server vendors and customers have the guidance they need on what hardware works best. This is the ideal way to do it. Enterprises want consistency and predictability. An archaic method is to provide the flexibility of the systems without fully understanding the implications of stability and predictability.

  1. Protocal flexibility is key.

Since day 1, Nexenta has been a multi-protocol solution. NFS, SMB/CIFS, iSCSI, FC, Object… it’s all covered. For tier 1 use cases (which Nexenta does dabble in), block is available. For file services, SMB/CIFS/NFS is available. Protocol flexibility is a key component to a software defined storage platform. Outdated methods try to just go the file route. While the protocol is fast, trying to get customers to adopt an all-SSD, software defined storage platform that’s just file is a lot to stomach. Situations can arise where customers have FC storage networks and don’t want to just throw them away. Or potentially a customer could be using iSCSI with a specific file system that they liked. Nexenta is able to provide connectivity in whatever way a customer wants and that helps to ease people into this SDS paradigm

So after a few months of being away from Nexenta I asked if I could have the opportunity to rejoin and thankfully there was space for me. I’m excited about rejoining a team and a product that I know well. I’m grateful for all the people I met in this journey but Nexenta is home and I’m glad to be back.

-Eric Cho, Sales Engineer 

Posted in Software-defined storage, Uncategorized

Employee Perspective: Software Defined Infrastructure and Hybrid Cloud Systems

Companies consider cloud usage for enterprise IT infrastructure, yet the majority of data stays in its own organization. They have to decide what data and system should go public and private. Two big trends, Big Data and Cyber Security, do not allow them enough time to construct both systems in public and private separately. Data and security threats are increasing enormously in such short period, and will continue to do so. IT organization also needs to face the fact that they cannot have both an unlimited budget and time for the infrastructure to solve those issues. In this case, I believe Software Defined Infrastructure and Hybrid Cloud systems are the solution. It gives you the tremendous flexibility to adopt the system to public and private cloud based on the commodity hardware platform.

Nexenta software-based storage solutions are seeing the big and promised opportunities in this area. We are facing many customers that are stuck with legacy hardware-based storages and infrastructures, who cannot move to other storage or infrastructure solutions because of those vendor lock-in systems. With Nexenta Software solutions, IT organizations can store their increasing data securely in public and private cloud. The solutions are based on industry standard hardware, so they can have true Software-Defined Infrastructure and keep the system flexibility long term.. This is a resolution for both now and the future as IT organization can enjoy the benefits of hybrid cloud flexibility at reasonable costs with tight security.

I personally believe hybrid cloud is the ultimate goal for anybody, not only for enterprises, but also individuals. For example, in my house I put my own private data in my home HDDs, but I also connect to public cloud like Google Photo to enjoy to access from any device, anytime, anywhere. I believe we all personally select what data stays private, while at the same time, think about saving cost saving and increasing flexibility.. The infrastructure consideration in terms of the balance among security, cost and flexibility are a little behind as people see fancier appearance of the services appealing. What matters is the infrastructure is the behind those services- is it the right solutions for our future from personal and business life. I have worked for Nexenta about three and half years, facing these keen critical subjects for enterprise customers. I strongly believe Software-Defined Infrastructure with hybrid cloud is the only solution that meets the goal for those enterprise customers. I am happy to a part of this solution at Nexenta.

– Jun Matsuura, Country Manager, Japan

Posted in cloud, Corporate, Software-defined storage, Uncategorized

Employee Perspective: SDS – Bringing parity to the rest of the infrastructure stack

When you purchase any OS today, it doesn’t come locked to specific hardware (sorry Apple). I can purchase Microsoft Office and it doesn’t care if I’m running it on a Dell PC, an Acer/Supermicro/HP. If you use applications like Salesforce you aren’t worried about the hardware. They are totally independent of the underlying hardware, and each is sized according to the job at hand. You buy hardware to fit your budget, on aesthetics, or its gaming performance (if you are my son). You buy software similarly and largely because it provides a function you need. So then why are so many people still buying storage hardware and software that are tied together?

Now, there are things I purchase that I expect to be fully integrated. I don’t want to have to assemble a car by myself – the major parts are not typically standard and I don’t want to have to understand how to assemble an automobile. However, today’s enterprise class storage products use the same devices, same processors, motherboards, add on cards that you find in any industry standard servers. They run on variants of, or even standard versions of common operating systems. Why are they bundled with a proprietary set of software? Most companies already have the talent to install, setup, customize and manage their IT infrastructure (in fact, you are forced to because those same Storage vendors aren’t going to do it for you). You have the expertise to create solutions that match your needs. You don’t need to be forced into a bundled solution.

Not only does it not make sense technically, it doesn’t make sense economically. Why face 3 year leases after which you need to replace your storage subsystems (including software) and often face the daunting task of migrating all of your data? It’s archaic and barbaric. There is an alternative.

Software-defined. In this case, Software-Defined Storage (SDS). The ability to merge the best storage functionality with the best underlying hardware and then maintain the currency and validity of that software and hardware with no impact on your data. Stay current, stay competitive. Sounds like a no brainer.

Storage functionality is a software value and function. It has to be. You can’t stay current much less competitive if anything other than the most critical functions are in the hardware (hardware that anyone can purchase). Installing storage functionality software shouldn’t be any harder than installing an OS – and it isn’t with NexentaStor.

This gives you the flexibility to keep up with the emerging trends in the Hybrid-multi cloud revolution/shift due to Big Data getting even Bigger w AI/ML/Robotics/Cyber … You don’t need to engage in long negotiations on bundled storage solutions that won’t keep pace with the rate at which data is accumulated, changed and used. You wouldn’t take weeks to roll out a new server – you can’t afford the delays. Your data is passing you by.

With Nexenta you have all the features and functions, all the performance with all the flexibility and hardware independence you expect at every other level in your IT infrastructure. You’re not buying a car, you’re enabling your business. Go software defined.

-Bill Fuller, Vice President, Engineering

Posted in Corporate, Software-defined storage

Why Nexenta? Employee Perspectives

Nexenta knows the Software-Defined Storage world. We consider ourselves experts within the industry, even across our various teams and job functions. Our tight-knit teams are constantly collaborating with different departments, partners, and customers around the world to leverage each others knowledge and point of views.

We also have passion for our products, company and industry. Whether it’s an Engineer working on the latest product update, or a Sales Rep talking to a new potential customer, our work is driven by passion and excitement for the technology and possibility in making a world impact on SDS.

Here at Nexenta, our employees not only believe in our Software-Defined Storage solution, but can wholeheartedly speak to it. We asked a few of our employees to talk about why they believe in Nexenta. Over the next few weeks we will be releasing entries from our employee’s point of view in a series we’re calling “Why Nexenta- Employee Perspective”. Here are the dates and people you can expect to hear from:

March 8th – Bill Fuller, VP, Engineering

March 14th- Jun Matsuura, Country Manager, Japan

March 20th- Eric Cho, Sales Engineer

March 26th- Rick Hayes, VP, Customer Service

Posted in Uncategorized

Late Night Infomercials and the Data Center

Today’s storage administrators are looking for the best performance for the lowest cost to satisfy their enterprise data requirements. Performance is often improved by adding more solid state drives, but these come at a cost premium. For enterprises looking to save money and resources while meeting performance requirements- data reduction is a key component in creating the ideal solution.

Options for data reduction are classified into two main categories and each has their own purpose- data deduplication and compression.

Inline vs. Post-Process Deduplication

Data deduplication is, in its simplest form, a process of removing duplicates. Take this blog as an example- by the 11th word we already repeated the word “the”. With deduplication, that would remove 3 of the 59 words in the first paragraph. If we did this for every word in the first paragraph we would be down to 47 total words or about a 20% reduction.

There are two methods that storage systems accomplish this with data blocks today- inline or post-process. Inline means that as the data is written, the duplicates are noted and pointers are created instead of writing the full data. Post-process deduplication removes the duplicates on a scheduled basis.

Inline requires more compute resources, but post-process deduplication puts the user at risk if a large file is loaded on the system and fills the capacity before the system has a chance to deduplicate it.


Compression is the next option to reduce the amount of data stored and it is the one people are typically more familiar with, even if they don’t realize it. Anytime you download a .zip file, you are receiving a compressed file.

To give you a real world example, think of the popular vacuum bags (In the event that you live under a rock and haven’t seen these in action, here is a 13-minute infomercial all about them). Traditionally, when you fold clothes each item takes up a given amount of space. However, when you use space saving bags to remove as much of the air as possible, you reduce the amount of space needed to store the contents. The good thing about compression is that, in many cases, it has a minimal impact on the compute resources of a storage array and can even make the system perform more efficiently.

So which is better?

Both compression and dedupe have a place in the datacenter, but it’s important to understand when each is most effective. You will normally get your highest data reduction ratios with dedupe, but those are primarily going to apply to desktop and server virtualization workloads that have a lot of commonalities.

Even in this case, the use of technologies like linked clones for VMware View can reduce the need for deduplication. Messaging and collaboration tools are another space you will see deduplication used frequently, but this is often built into the application layer and relies less on the storage deduplication.

For most other workloads, compression is ideal- from files in Media and Entertainment, Databases, Analytics and more. Increasingly, you will see the use of compression become the most widely used and effective data reduction strategy.

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Posted in Data Protection, Software-defined storage

How Backend Storage Impacts the Cloud

We all know that there are a variety of factors that impact application performance running on cloud infrastructure, such as network latency and bandwidth, server compute power and, one that is often overlooked, storage. Service providers need strong storage solutions supporting their infrastructure so they can differentiate themselves in this increasingly competitive space, while providing superior service and performance to their end users.

WebSupport, a leading European Cloud Service Provider supports thousands of customers, all requiring differing levels of performance and reliability. WebSupport needed to achieve specific performance metrics with their storage in a cost-effective manner. To solve their dilemma, they deployed an all-flash NexentaStor system that exceeds their performance requirements of 600K read IOPS and 300K write IOPS. Utilizing the advanced caching built into our filesystem, WebSupport is able to deliver 1.2M read IOPS. In addition, NexentaStor’s data reduction reduces their disk space capacity by 40%, providing additional cost-savings for their business.

Earlier this year, WebSupport ran their VPS performance benchmark test against some top regional and global Cloud Service Provider competitors in the market today. To learn more about the results of the testing and to get an in-depth analysis of their findings, read their Benchmarking White Paper here.

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Posted in all flash, cloud, Software-defined data center, Software-defined storage