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TwinStrata delivers data to the cloud

Tom Henderson | July 24, 2013
CloudArray acts as a secure connection broker between enterprise nets and cloud storage providers.

As an example, to get files deleted from our iSCSI-connected HP store, we had to use HP-supplied PowerShell commands. This means that it's possible to displace (and therefore likely get billed for) a maximum common denominator cloud storage displacement, although the deleted files will eventually go away using CIFS. These files are around 800KB in size. Those counting pennies will get nervous, but the storage costs for many cloud storage providers and smaller cloud storage needs have recently been a race to the bottom, so it's likely that those deploying CloudArray won't likely care. These facts did, however, make testing/piloting/estimating storage needs, costs, and transaction times more difficult.

Use cases
TwinStrata's CloudArray is potentially more manageable via CIFS shares, as described above, and that means compatibility with Microsoft and Linux/BSD/etc. uses. The CIFS shares or iSCSI target can be the replacement for drives and shares, as well as tapes in backup scenarios, although TwinStrata isn't really a traditional backup application.

Another scenario might be to establish datasets for replication purposes. The replicated data can be used for eDiscovery, directly accessible restoration, and depending on realtime requirements, aforementioned HA or disaster recovery to another or IP address.

The most convenient use is to a cloud storage services provider as an extension of general internal storage assets, or as the gathering point for other cloud system assets either with the same cloud system asset provider, or as a backup/replicant to a distributed chain of diffuse assets.

The connection/share brokerage capabilities of CloudArray can be very diverse, if with some limitations. Most of what CloudArray does can be mimicked by doing all of the work yourself if you have the time and are very clever, as there's a large and tedious amount of work that CloudArray performs in lieu of our own manual construction of the same steps. CloudArray can be terribly convenient, and a comparatively simple way to extend storage resources into a cloud storage service provider's secure data stores. Despite the convenience, TwinStrata's CloudArray is still somewhat primitive and needs polish - but it's a great start.

How We Tested TwinStrata CloudArray
We hosted CloudArray as an appliance in our network operations center at nFrame/Expedient in Carmel, Ind., and controlled it from our lab in Bloomington. CloudArray was downloaded and hosted as a VMware ESXi 5.1 VM. We connected the appliance to AWS S3 and HP CloudServices via iSCSI, and tested the appliance's connectivity, speed, and logging from the NOC's resources, mainly Windows 2008R2 instances via iSCSI, and our Dell/Compellent Series 30 SAN, also connected through the switch via iSCSI interfaces. We also tested CIFS interfaces in a similar manner. The appliance host was an HP DL360Gen8 server with four Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet interfaces into an Extreme 24-port Gigabit Ethernet crossbar switch, connected through nFrame/Expedient's switch to the cloud storage providers.


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