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Nasuni puts its cloud storage balls on the line

100 per cent uptime guarantee

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Nasuni is offering a 100 per cent uptime guarantee for data access through its cloud filer gateway appliance.

Of course, it can't actually rule out service outages, so it is offering compensation for outages if the 100 per cent uptime target is breached.

In his blog, Andres Rodriguez – Nasuni's CEO – says: "We have attached penalties meant to reflect the absolute confidence we have in our ability to sustain these service levels. These ... include 10 days of free service in the event of a five-minute data availability outage ... In the event of a complete meltdown of your local storage, you will also be able to restore end-user access to your data quickly and simply, in less than 15 minutes."

What Nasuni is marketing as its "Customer Bill of Rights" includes, according to Rodriguez, these four pillars of the service level agreement (SLA):

  • 100 per cent Data Availability – your storage is always available to write or read from it.
  • 100 per cent Data Access – you can always get to your data (even if your data centre is not available).
  • 100 per cent Secure – your data is encrypted at your premises and unavailable to anyone who does not have your encryption keys.
  • 100 per cent Immutability – it is not possible to modify snapshots of your data.

Virtual filer

The Nasuni filer, claimed to be a primary data storage facility, is software in a virtual machine that sets up a local cache of data and sends all created data up to a third-party cloud service provider, such as Amazon's S3, Microsoft's Azure or Nirvanix, in deduplicated and encrypted form.

It is not recommended for use in storing database or email server data, so we might call it a near-primary data cloud storage facility.

A sub-set of all of a customer's data is in the filer cache, and access to that data is as fast as access to locally stored data in a disk array – because it is locally stored data. What about access to your data when it is not in the cache?

A Nasuni FAQ says: "Speeds for a file not in the cache will depend on your Internet connection and your cloud storage provider. Typically, files begin to download in a few seconds."

OK. What about large files, very large files?

Because the Nasuni filter is a cache, and not a complete array, you can only restore data to the point that the cache is full. Accessing any other data after that means replacing cache contents. How long it takes to fill the cache will depend on cache speed and the bandwidth between the cache and the cloud.

Here's what Nasuni says about restoring lots of files in the FAQ: "Traditional backup is notoriously slow. With Nasuni, a restored file system is available within minutes, putting your users back to work right away."

Uptime guarantee limits

The uptime guarantee is fine and dandy, as far as it goes, which is to the point when an internet connection fails or the banned cloud storage service fails. Neither of these things are within Nasuni's control.

It does not, for example, have any RAID scheme across cloud storage service providers.

It is not clear if the uptime guarantee covers these two classes of events.

We asked Nasuni about this and here is the Q and A session:

El Reg: Does the 100 per cent uptime guarantee cover the failure of the internet connection between the Nasuni filer and the backend cloud storage facility?

Nasuni: 

No. The on-premise storage controller (Nasuni Filer) uses the enterprise's own internet connection to connect with all aspects of our Storage Services Network, including cloud storage and our Network Operations Center. Given we have no control over each organisation's internet connection, we can't guarantee it.

With that said, the on-premise storage controller will continue to operate normally. Once the connection has been reestablished, the storage controller will then automatically synchronise any local changes with other parts of the Storage Services Network.

El Reg: Does the 100 per cent uptime guarantee cover the failure of the backend cloud storage service?

Nasuni: Yes. By integrating back-end cloud storage into our Storage Services Network, we've been able to make much stronger promises than when we simply connected customers to the cloud of their choice. For the past two years we've been testing the performance, scalability, and reliability of all the public cloud storage offerings. By building unique partnerships with the best of the best we're able to make much stronger guarantees than anyone else in the industry.

El Reg: 
If either or both of these events are covered by the guarantee and either or both happen, what compensation does Nasuni supply to its customers?

Nasuni: For every five minutes of downtime, Nasuni will provide a 10-day service credit to customers. This is a 3,000X return – exponential multiples of your typical SLA. ®

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