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Nexsan Unity adds compliance archive appliance

Nexsan Unity arrays integrate optional secure compliance archive for petabytes of unstructured data. Data files written to primary storage are immediately copied to the archive.

Amid a new round of leadership changes, Nexsan Inc. has added a petabyte-scale compliance archive to complement its multiprotocol Nexsan Unity hybrid storage arrays.

Nexsan Unity software runs on the vendor's dual-controller NST arrays for file and block storage. The new Nexsan Unity Active Archive appliance ranges in capacity from 16 TB to 5 PB. The hardware add-on is intended mostly for unstructured data subject to legal regulations.

Nexsan also augmented its n-Way sync replication with Desktop on Unity, a function that allows users to synchronize selected files between a main data center and a local device for offline access.

New products, new Nexsan execs

The product rollouts come as Nexsan is going through a transition. Imation spun out Nexsan last December, four years after Imation acquired Nexsan. Hedge-fund manager Spear Point Capital Management took Nexsan private in the spinout. Nexsan generated only $33 million in revenue over nine months leading to the split.

Imation CEO Bob Fernander became Nexsan's interim CEO in December, but last week, Spear Point founder Ron Bienvenu replaced Fernander as Nexsan's boss. Fernander will remain as chairman emeritus on the Nexsan board.

Nexsan CTO Geoff Barrall is switching roles to become COO. Barrall joined Nexsan following Imation's acquisition of Connected Data in 2015. Nexsan hired Western Digital/HGST global controller John Westfield as its new COO.

Victoria Grey returned to Nexsan as chief marketing officer after serving in the same role at HyperGrid since 2014. Grey previously was Nexsan vice president of marketing from 2010 to 2013. Tony Craythorne has been appointed as senior vice president of worldwide sales.

Still unresolved is a legal dispute between Nexsan and Dell EMC regarding use of the Unity trademark. Dell EMC Unity is a branded midrange hybrid flash array.

Nexsan notes a need for user-friendly compliance archive

Nexsan Unity unified storage uses DRAM and SSDs for block and file storage. The Unity platform integrates FASTier caching for I/O performance and Assureon back-end object storage.

Unity Active Archive keeps at least two copies of a file or object available. The on-premises filer follows user policies to transparently place inactive files in archival storage.

Nexsan's client software ingests data into Nexsan Unity primary storage and immediately stores a file copy in the compliance archive for long-term retention. A redundant copy is replicated to a multi-tenant Unity Active Archive hosted remotely or in the cloud. Users can restore the original file from the archive by clicking on a software shortcut.

"As soon as we get it, we want to protect your data from accidental or deliberate destruction," said Gary Watson, Nexsan's vice president of technical engagement.

Files may be replicated continuously between two remote archives. Native active-active replication protects against site disasters with automated read failover and manual write failover.

Our position is the mobility piece should be built into filers. People need this type of technology. A VPN isn't good enough.
Gary Watsonvice president of technical engagement, Nexsan

"Our position is the mobility piece should be built into filers. People need this type of technology. A VPN [virtual private network] isn't good enough," Watson said.

Nexsan's Unity Active Archive presents an NFS, CIFS or NAS interface to applications and end users. Lights-out management and encryption for data at rest and in flight are native to the product.

"They're calling it hyper-converged unified storage," said Terri McClure, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., in Milford, Mass. "The premise is that every time you take a vendor, product or process out of the management stack, you add efficiencies within IT."

Nexsan Desktop on Unity works similarly to Skype technology. The software creates a peer-to-peer connection that allows users to store files for offline access on a local device. Changes to the file are automatically synchronized to Unity when the device is back online.

Pricing for Nexsan Unity hybrid arrays starts at around $22,000. A single Unity Active Archive appliance costs about $2,000. Companies can purchase a single 2U Unity Active Archive appliance, or a 2U appliance and 4U shelf.

McClure said Nexsan has improved its storage to address disaster recovery, file sharing and multisite replication, with support for mobile device access. Adding a compliance archive will appeal to organizations that may lack a dedicated storage team.

"The challenge for Nexsan is going to be similar to that of hyper-converged vendors: figuring out which customers will be happy with an all-in-one approach," she said, adding Unity Active Archive is designed for one person or small teams responsible for many IT roles. "If he can have one Unity console to manage archive, block and file, he's a pretty happy camper."

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