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Qumulo NAS file system adds encryption, security

Qumulo juices its file system with encryption, real-time security audits and other capabilities designed to position the scale-out NAS for denser, more complex workloads.

The Qumulo NAS file system has undergone a major revamp aimed at customers in healthcare and other regulated industries.

Qumulo Hybrid File Software version 3 offers two types of data encryption, real-time security audits and the ability to replicate role-based access controls across local and cloud environments. The Seattle-based scale-out storage vendor also rolled out the P-368T, a dense NVMe all-flash addition to its P-Series family.

Enterprise customers can buy Qumulo NAS on the vendor's branded storage Q-Series and P-Series arrays, on Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Apollo servers via an OEM deal, or as part of HPE GreenLake cloud consumption. Qumulo also recently signed a deal with Fujitsu to sell Qumulo NAS in Asia.

Qumulo Core is also qualified to run on Dell EMC PowerEdge servers, although the companies have not formalized an OEM selling arrangement. Qumulo competes with Dell EMC Isilon scale-out NAS.

Encryption: A work in progress

Qumulo's integrated encryption is a requirement for working with healthcare organizations that manage confidential patient data. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires healthcare providers to encrypt data in flight, while the HITECH Act requires encryption for data at rest.

Randy Kerns,  senior analyst of storage at Evaluator Group, said early Qumulo NAS customers didn't require encryption, but the features are a requirement for Qumulo to break into highly regulated markets.

That includes healthcare organizations that manage confidential patient data. HIPAA requires healthcare providers to encrypt data in flight, while the HITECH Act requires encryption for data at rest.

Large enterprises are also more likely to need encryption than Qumulo's early customer base, which included many media and entertainment and life sciences companies.

 "As you broaden your market and the ways your software gets used, then your requirements increase. Qumulo NAS initially was going after more specialty vertical markets where a lot of these new features were not really highly valued or necessary. As Qumulo goes after broader use cases, especially in the enterprise environments, these new capabilities become more important to potential new customers," Kerns said.

Qumulo encrypts data in flight via the SMB 3.0 protocol as data moves to the Qumulo file system. The SMB encryption works across Qumulo-branded arrays and HPE Apollo-based deployments. NFS encryption is on the roadmap, said Molly Presley, who leads Qumulo's global product marketing.

For now, encryption at rest occurs only on the HPE Apollo hardware, using HPE's silicon-level root of trust to ensure that servers will boot only with code from an immutable source. Presley said Qumulo plans to add software-based encryption across all hardware by the end of 2020.

Qumulo already supported snapshots and replication, but a new wrinkle allows customers to move snapshots to cloud-based or physical remote clusters for data recovery. That setup eliminates the need to tier data and ensures the backup process won't affect system performance, Presley said. Storage admins can set policies to select any Qumulo cluster to serve as either a primary or backup target. Features include fast failover and fallback, without the need to run a restore operation.

On-site role-based access control (RBAC) has been supported in previous versions, but Qumulo NAS software now allows user permissions to be synced across widely distributed shared IT environments.

File systems enable distributed shared storage in multi-cloud environments, but that can lead to the creation of siloes of dark data, which can lead to gaps in data protection. Other challenges for sharing storage across clouds include variable demand and network bottlenecks that arise when heavy data loads are being transported. Traditional file systems were not written for the cloud, so systems scan for changed files and applications can place a burden on networks.

Qumulo introduced the Hybrid Cloud File Storage, formerly known as Qumulo File Fabric, in 2017. The latest enhancements natively protect larger distributed data sets across cloud, core and edge users.

New Qumulo NAS for highly dense storage

Qumulo arrays include the flagship Q-Series and the all-flash P-Series models, which started shipping in 2018. P-Series arrays are engineered for NVMe SSDs. The new P-368T packs 1.4 PB of raw flash in a four-node cluster. It also replaces the P-184T as the high-end model, with 736 TB. The P-92T supports 368 TB of raw storage, and the entry-level P-23T starts at 92 TB.

Presley said falling prices for NVMe flash have convinced more customers to take the plunge, even if it means buying more capacity than they need right now. "That wouldn't have happened if the price differential [with SAS and SATA] was 10 times, but now the price differential is low enough, that we're seeing more customers deciding to lean in on NVMe," she said.

Qumulo received wider exposure by being an HPE partner, and the Fujitsu partnership is a symbiotic one, Kerns said. "Qumulo gives Fujitsu a good, competitive product offering it didn't have before, and it gives Qumulo the chance to enter a market where they weren't competing before."

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