peshkova - Fotolia

IBM, LucidLink the latest to tackle cloud file storage

Startup LucidLink has bundled its Filespaces file system with IBM's Cloud Object Storage offerings. Distributed work teams can access shared data as network-attached storage.

File startup LucidLink has coupled its Filespaces NAS software with IBM Cloud Object Storage, a further sign that cloud-native file services have reached maturity.

IBM is the latest OEM partner for LucidLink, a San Francisco-based NAS software vendor that allows shared access to dense file volumes in the cloud. The LucidLink IBM Cloud bundle implements Filespaces cloud file storage as a service on top of IBM object storage. The vendor claims Filespaces allows data to be accessed from any location, regardless of file size or type.

LucidLink's file system for the cloud is intended as a replacement for dedicated NAS. The startup has partnerships with about 15 storage and cloud vendors. The Filespaces technology sits at the edge of a client device to create, configure, monitor and protect customers' cloud data. It sells similar bundled services for Wasabi file storage.

The IBM object storage replaces a previous LucidLink bundle engineered for AWS' Simple Storage Service. LucidLink also released updated pricing.

LucidLink FIlespaces
LucidLink FIlespaces allows users to customize deployments of file storage in the cloud.

Cloud file storage goes mainstream

LucidLink faces stiff competition from established storage vendors and major cloud providers. Cloud file storage is evolving to help organizations manage the growing file size generated by modern applications. That's led to a flurry of cloud-based file storage products.

Google last year introduced Filestore High Scale, a high-performance cloud file storage based on its 2019 acquisition of file vendor Elastifile. Scale-out specialist Qumulo recently unveiled product enhancements that enable its file system to support unstructured data.

Legacy vendors are also writing code to support file storage in the cloud. Dell EMC engineered a version of its Isilon scale-out software tuned for Google Cloud Platform and is expected to offer similar products for Microsoft Azure and AWS. Azure NetApp Files is an iteration of NetApp's OnTap storage OS that is optimized for Microsoft's public cloud.

It's the capability to manage data, regardless of its location, that IT really desires.
Steve McDowellAnalyst, Moor Insights & Strategy

Steve McDowell, a senior technology analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said enterprises are deploying data-rich applications to the cloud and expect the same level of scalable file services they get from dedicated NAS appliances in the data center.

"While the public cloud providers provide excellent file services at the instance level, they continue to lag in providing the kinds of scalable file services you need to deploy data lakes and high-performance distributed workloads," McDowell said.

He said demand for fast cloud-based file storage is pulling legacy vendors into the cloud while spawning disruptive startups. "It's the capability to manage data, regardless of its location, that IT really desires," McDowell said.

'Speed is everything'

Unlike a hierarchical file system, object storage places all data in a unified namespace. That makes object-based systems highly scalable, with the tradeoff of slower performance. LucidLink wants to tackle those performance-sensitive workloads that also need scalable capacity and ease of use. Filespaces is intended for work teams that collaborate on production data in the cloud. Metadata and data are split and synchronized locally, which LucidLink claims reduces cloud egress costs.

Filespaces carves out a shared global namespace and streams data back and forth to object storage. The storage is presented as a local network-attached device, but users collaborate on the shared data stored in the cloud.

Torti Gallas, a global architectural and planning practice based in Silver Spring, Md., chose LucidLink's cloud file storage to centralize data across its offices and retire older storage systems. The company needed to break down data siloes to enable more remote work, said Omer Mushahwar, the firm's director of IT.

"Speed is everything -- without it, the file access is extremely slow. We needed the same access experience, regardless of geographic location," Mushahwar said.

The company previously used internal NetApp filers before switching to LucidLink, Mushawar said. Panzura and Nasuni file devices were considered as replacements, as well as Box and Dropbox cloud storage, but Mushahwar said he chose LucidLink for ease of use.

"The app allows us to mimic all our old file paths and now have one unified storage system. It worked well with all our software and server-based systems due to the way it ties in and is read by the servers. We reorganized our seven network drives into one cloud-driven location" that is accessible around the clock, Mushahwar said.

The LucidLink IBM Cloud bundle is available now.

Next Steps

Cloud file vendors try to woo enterprise storage buyers

Dig Deeper on Primary storage devices

Disaster Recovery
Data Backup
Data Center
and ESG