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Nexsan storage software brings Unity to its hardware

Unity software supports Nexsan with NST block devices, Assureon object storage and Transporter cloud sync functionality that it picked up from Connected Data.

Nexsan Inc. today came out with an operating system that combines its file, block and object storage with enterprise cloud sync-and-share software for mobile collaboration across multiple sites.

The new Nexsan Unity runs on the vendor's dual-controller NST platform that supports network-attached block and file storage. Unity also includes a separate controller for Nexsan storage customers that use its disk-based Assureon object storage system. Unity also incorporates Nexsan's Transporter file sync-and-share technology.

Existing Nexsan customers will receive Unity as a firmware upgrade. A subsequent Unity rollout will support high-density E-Series block-based SATA appliances.

Nexsan is the core operating company of Imation Corp., which acquired it in 2013. Imation remains the holding parent company.

Deni Connor, founding analyst at SSG-Now in Austin, Texas, said Nexsan Unity will appeal to enterprises struggling to balance data residency requirements with mobile storage access.

"This is a real interesting idea. Nexsan has taken the Transporter product and combined it with the NST unified storage, and incorporated the Assureon compliance platform. This is the first blush of their new platform, and I think it will be pretty well-received," Connor said.

Unity OS embeds sync and share on Nexsan storage hardware

Nexsan software runs on industry-standard hardware. The vendor mostly sells to customers that operate in highly regulated industries, including financial services, government and healthcare.

The Unity platform integrates Enterprise N-Way Sync cloud collaboration software, allowing mobile users to access primary storage across a LAN or WAN. It gives the capability to synchronize volumes running on different Nexsan storage clusters. Enterprise N-Way Sync is part of the Transporter private cloud peer-to-peer technology Nexsan added via its October 2015 acquisition of Connected Data.

The Transporter technology runs locally on premises, using a cloud connection broker to guarantee secure remote access to primary storage behind a corporate firewall.

Nexsan CEO Bob Fernander said Enterprise N-Way Sync is an alternative to cloud-based sharing services targeted mainly at consumers. It gives customers a method to maintain local control of shared cloud storage, yet comply with legal regulations.

"Dropbox and Box have value, but they create a shadow IT infrastructure," Fernander said. "We believe the challenge of managing that shadow IT is reaching critical mass, especially in the regulated sectors. People are searching for a way to extend their primary storage to mobile clients, yet remain within compliance."

Terri McClure, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., in Milford, Mass., said Nexsan may have to walk enterprise users through the concept of combining storage protocols with cloud-based sync and share.

"Nexsan's biggest challenge will be educating the market about Unity," she said. "This is a very compelling product. It's not block storage, it's not file storage and it's not object storage -- it's all of the above, with the addition of enterprise sync and share. I could see organizations, such as regional hospitals, putting Unity in place locally, and avoid jurisdictional and regulatory issues [associated with cloud storage]."

Unity ships on Nexsan storage hybrid arrays, including DRAM-flash cache to accelerate applications that need it. Policy-based data migration moves other data to secondary or archival storage.

Fernander said Nexsan Unity will add support later in 2016 for mobile sync and share on Apple iOS and Google Android devices, as well as Mac OX and Windows operating systems.

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