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IXsystems, Storj unveil distributed storage feature

As an alternative to AWS S3 or storage-as-a-service offerings, iXsystems and Storj now offer a distributed storage model on TrueNAS Scale for $4 per TB, per month.

IXsystems and Storj Labs are partnering to bring more capacity to customers using a distributed storage model at a price point competitive to hyperscalers.

IX-Storj Globally Distributed Storage (GDS) enables users to capitalize on unused or siloed capacity. IX-Storj provides geo-replicated object storage for redundancy or storage as a service (STaaS) for lower cost than using certain hyperscaler storage. With the beta release of Bluefin, the new TrueNAS Scale HCI OS, users can access the new GDS and use object storage as if they were buying it from the public cloud.

This feature gives iXsystems customers elastic, on-demand storage, like what hyperscalers offer, according to Marc Staimer, president of Dragon Slayer Consulting.

"It's S3 compatible, on-premises storage that you can subscribe to like you're in a cloud," he said.

Bluefin and Storj on TrueNAS

Storj is a global distributed storage supplier that offers S3-compatible object storage but doesn't run in traditional data centers, according to Ben Golub, CEO at Storj. Instead, the company uses thousands of independently operated nodes around the world, bringing together the aggregated performance of the different drives.

Customers manage the data from a single, separate location. They can also rent excess capacity to others looking to use Storj, he said.

iXsystems and Storj overview
IXsystems has added Storj distributed storage to TrueNAS.

"If they want to be a supplier of storage and monetize their excess capacity, it takes no extra electricity, people or equipment to run drives at 80% full versus 20% full," Golub said.

As of today, the need for this type of storage is low, according to Staimer. Other options such as StaaS and cloud exist.

But Golub said certain use cases, such as a smaller customer with a high-speed NAS that wanted to use object storage but avoid hyperscalers, could find value in this model.

Bluefin moving to beta brings iX-Storj GDS to iXsystems. The vendor will be updating its NAS OS and non-Bluefin HCI OS to add the iX-Storj distributed storage feature. With a pro account on TrueNAS Scale, GDS is free for the first 150 GB and $4 per TB after that, according to the company.

What [iX and Storj] are doing is providing scale-out storage in the cloud for block, file and object.
Marc StaimerPresident, Dragon Slayer Consulting

The iX-Storj GDS is a cheaper alternative compared to other StaaS offerings, such as Dell Apex on-site customer managed storage, which runs about $6 per TB with 100 TB minimum, but may not compete pricewise with AWS, where costs depend on the type of storage customers are using, Staimer said. For example, iX-Storj is cheaper than Amazon EBS but more expensive than S3, which costs $2.30 per TB.

Costs aside, the partnership here gives customers scale on demand for all types of storage, unlike AWS or StorPool, another competitor, Staimer said.

"What [iXsystems and Storj] are doing is providing scale-out storage in the cloud for block, file and object," he said.

Storj's Golub said iXsystems enables customers to manage different types of storage in a single pool. Now, that same data can be kept and managed on premises and moved or backed up to a global cloud.

Security in the hands of strangers

IXsystems and Storj assert that using distributed storage is more secure than using traditional storage methods such as on-premises NAS or DAS. Replication to different sites gives it a built-in disaster recovery capability.

Storj also encrypts and breaks or shards data into separate pieces and stores it in separate locations, Golub said. Meaning that bad actors would have to locate the data in separate places, combine them, and unencrypt them to get at the data.

The iX-Storj distributed storage feature is as secure or better than other object storage offerings, Staimer said. It has federal information processing standards 140-3, the latest government security standard, and improved role-based access control, which limits access. However, Staimer cautioned against relying on just iX-Storj for security.

"Every kind of storage-based data protection is limited," Staimer said.

Storage-based data protection adds another layer of security, he said. It helps in the case of hardware failure or preventing against accidental deletion. Users need to follow best practices and consider using a data protection offering for ransomware protection.

Adam Armstrong is a TechTarget Editorial news writer covering file and block storage hardware and private clouds. He previously worked at StorageReview.com.

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