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Nexsan Unity taps into cloud and Assureon archive

The third generation of Nexsan Unity appliances introduced interoperability with Assureon for extra ransomware defense and the ability to connect and migrate to 18 public clouds.

Nexsan expanded the unification process of its Unity appliances to the cloud, as well the vendor's Assureon archive and legacy devices.

Nexsan's launch of its third-generation Unity storage appliances can connect to Assureon object-based archive appliances to make it harder for bad actors to introduce unwanted encryption. Nexsan also introduced Cloud Connector and Data Migration to Unity, allowing it to replicate between on premises and cloud and to migrate data off legacy systems to Unity.

The Unity series is designed for primary and backup storage, with support for hard disk drives and flash.
Unity third-generation appliances come in a 3300 model and a 7900 model. The 7900 has more disk bays, raw capacity and system memory. Both models are priced by capacity. According to Nexsan CTO Surya Varanasi, the 3300 is typically a backup target, while the 7900 is geared toward customers looking for high-performance storage.

Render of Nexsan Unity appliance
Nexsan Unity appliances come in two models: 3300 and 7900.

Nexsan described Unity's connection to Assureon as "unbreakable" backup. Nexsan's Assureon appliance is object storage with file fingerprinting and serialization, used for creating an immutable archive. Unity is certified to work with backup products from Veeam and Commvault, but Assureon adds immutability, making it harder for malware to cause any unwanted changes to the data. Because Assureon is a locked-down appliance serviced by StorCentric (Nexsan's parent company), it's an extra layer that cybercriminals have to penetrate in order to get to the data.

"To breach the Assureon, you also have to breach us," Varanasi said. "Everybody's getting smarter, but the more levels you have, the more difficult it is to breach."

Marc Staimer, president of Dragon Slayer Consulting, described Assureon as, "very viable immutable storage for backup." Assureon itself isn't a backup appliance, as it doesn't manipulate the backup data, but it can store backup data, encrypt it, put multi-factor authentication on it, and generally make it harder for bad actors to access it. Even if everything else is compromised, Assureon will have an untouched backup copy to restore from.

There has been a rising trend of ransomware going after backup systems, and backup vendors have been working together with security vendors in response. Staimer said this is just another step in the continuous arms race between IT and cybercriminals.

"Technology is always breakable. If it's built by humans, it has flaws," Staimer said.

Cloud Connector and Data Migration are two new features that are subsets of an upcoming Nexsan product called Data Mobility Suite, which is scheduled to launch in September. The Cloud Connector module links Unity to 18 public clouds, including AWS and Google Cloud, allowing the Unity appliance to back up to public cloud. Data Migration lets customers migrate data off legacy systems onto Unity and retire the old arrays.

Varanasi said Data Mobility Suite, which will be an entirely separate product from Unity, is designed to enable data sharing between heterogeneous devices, between cloud and on premises and from cloud to cloud. He said the reality is that organizations are using multiple products from multiple vendors, which leads to data silos and difficulty in sharing and moving data. Data Mobility Suite is meant to address that, and some of its functions are previewed in Unity.

"Managing a department with data spread between an Isilon and a NetApp is no fun at all. It's not easily shared, you need to log in multiple times, and so on," Varanasi said.

Staimer said adding the cloud and data mobility components to Unity was an important step for the product, putting them in competitive alignment with the capabilities of tiered storage vendors Hewlett Packard Enterprise Nimble and Infinidat. He said Nexsan Unity is much less expensive than its competitors, and the company has a few large customers under its belt already, including Caltech, NBC and the Australian Government Department of Defence.

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