Reaching Higher with Hammerspace

The Failure of Legacy NAS

Legacy NAS solutions fall short of keeping up with the disruptive innovation of Cloud. Legacy NAS vendors have seemingly adopted a defensive strategy that acknowledges they can neither compete with nor offer significant complementary value to Cloud.   Realizing they cannot compete with the cloud; their solutions focus around bolting on as many services as possible to increase licensing fees; a solution that lacks both vision and innovation. It is simply a survival strategy adopted by aging storage giants with technologies that have outlived their usefulness and falls far short of what major cloud solutions offer. This begs the question why isn’t more data stored in public cloud? The answer is as simple as it is painful. Data is still stuck in storage vendor silos. Even the promise of scale-out storage has simply become a larger silo. The explosive growth of unstructured data has outgrown legacy NAS by an order of magnitude. To make matters worse, these silos are rarely compatible. Vendor A’s snapshots are different from Vendor B’s requiring different considerations, protection schemes and care and feeding. We can, of course, move data from one silo to another to address requirements for performance, capacity, protection, or cost considerations but that requires the dreaded maintenance window and downtime. Moving data to cloud offers many benefits but, again, requires downtime. Organizing and consolidating siloed legacy NAS data is a challenge that grows exponentially with the explosive growth of unstructured data.

Legacy NAS Topology

Cloud NAS: A Half-Hearted Approach

Cloud NAS (aka Cloud Gateways) emerged a decade ago. At the time they seemed like a step closer to offering an additional value to Cloud. But when you peel the onion, it is more like legacy NAS than Cloud.  Moving data to Cloud still requires disruptive data migration. The approach requires that first data must be migrated from legacy NAS to a local Cloud NAS appliance. Then and only then can the Cloud NAS appliance leverage Cloud. This kind of data migration requires downtime and is disruptive to business productivity. Cloud NAS are infrastructure-bound and, thus, cannot escape the data gravity dilemma. Despite all the promises of global collaboration, global namespace, and global file system the reality is that Cloud Gateways have more in common with legacy NAS than Cloud. NAS technologies, whether legacy or “cloud” have not been significantly innovated in the last two decades. Improvements have been incremental and evolutionary, but not disruptive or revolutionary. Finding, organizing, and consolidating data is just as confusing with Cloud Gateways as it is with legacy NAS.

Cloud Gateway Topology

Hammerspace Global Data Center

Hammerspace disrupts legacy and cloud NAS by decoupling data from the underlying infrastructure.  This is accomplished by harvesting metadata from unstructured storage infrastructure, decoupling data and metadata. We call this process metadata assimilation. By assimilating the metadata from underlying infrastructure, Hammerspace turns disparate silos and sprawl into a Global Data Center, but not in the traditional sense, as there are no limitations imposed by vendors, aging hardware appliances, silos, sprawl, or other narrow, vendor-imposed restrictions.  A modern, global data center is not restricted by silos, vendors or, even, clouds. The Global Data Center is defined by seven qualities that you should expect from any agile, efficient, and modern solution:

  • Enable a Global Workforce with a Global File System
  • Use Any Storage You Like
  • Deploy Hammerspace on Any Infrastructure Platform
  • Scale Elastically According to Your Needs
  • Automate Your Workflows with Declarative Objectives
  • Protect Your Data from Ransomware and Other Threats

Hammerspace Architecture

Enable a Global Workforce with a Global File System

A global file system should do more than just making data accessible across geographies. That is the simple part! A truly global file system enables collaboration and automates workflows in a follow-the-sun model to drive productivity, making it easier and faster to meet deadlines, speed to market, and profitability. The real secret is turning the smallest parts of data into one of your most powerful tools. The term global file system is often conflated by other vendors with global namespace. A global file system is more than a bunch of storage controllers that replicate data back and forth. Calling that a global file system is more “marketecture” than architecture. A global namespace is a single address for geographically dispersed data. But addressability is not the same as availability. A global file system must be globally addressable as well as globally available on demand. Hammerspace Global File System makes data free from gravity and, thus, lightweight, and easily portable on demand. When a file is created in one location its metadata is instantly made available on any Hammerspace deployment within an organization. Data is moved only on-demand when an application or end-user needs it. Of course, this data can also be easily replicated, copied, tiered, archived, or backed up offsite with simple declarative policies. Isn’t that what you should expect from a modern data management solution?

Hammerspace Global Data Center

Use Any Storage You Like

Hammerspace is decoupled from underlying infrastructure. By assimilating the metadata of NAS and file systems, Hammerspace turns disparate storage into composable building blocks for all your data. This makes it possible to create a cohesive infrastructure of building blocks from multiple storage vendors and technologies. Hammerspace makes it easy to mix and match NAS, file systems, object stores, and cloud from different vendors into a single resource. The outcome is a logical container of storage that is managed, protected, provisioned, and accessible as a unified resource for all your data. Why live with silos and sprawl if you do not have to?

Use Any Storage

Deploy Hammerspace on Any Infrastructure Platform

Free yourself from limitations by deploying Hammerspace on a platform of your choice. With Hammerspace, you pick the deployment method that best suits your objectives.  Installation and configuration are simple, straightforward, and fast on bare metal, hypervisors, or cloud in any combination you like. Bare metal installation is supported on enterprise hardware platforms by following a simple and straightforward Hardware Compatibility List. Hammerspace also supports hypervisor installations on VMware ESX, Microsoft Hyper-V, KVM, and Nutanix AHV. Finally, Hammerspace can also be deployed on AWS, Azure, and GCP. The agility and versatility of the Hammerspace software platform makes is not only possible but very easy and straightforward to reach the clouds. Hammerspace puts data in the foreground and infrastructure in the background by decoupling it from underlying infrastructure. After all, it is data that is valuable to an organization while infrastructure is simply a utility whose purpose it is to make data available, durable, and secure.

Deploy on Any Major Platform

Scale Geographically Distributed Infrastructure Elastically

Hammerspace turns disparate storage silos, such as NAS, file systems, object storage, and cloud, into composable building blocks. Scale-out storage only scales out within a strictly defined border. The border of scale-out NAS is a cluster of appliances. Object storage scales across sites but only within a single vendor. Even cloud has a border, namely the cloud provider itself. Hammerspace breaks down these limitations so that you can build a global data center with the components you determine. Build a global file system from the DAS, NAS, file systems, SDS, object storage, and cloud in any combination you choose. Why live with limitations imposed by legacy vendor technologies?

Global Data Center

Automate Your Workflows with Declarative Objectives

Metadata describes the properties of data. In other words, it describes what data is. Hammerspace uses those properties to define what data can do. In other words, it makes metadata programmable. This is not an insignificant achievement. There is more than a decade of research, innovation, and engineering effort behind. This, of course, begs the most important question… what can you do with programmable metadata? The answer is you can declare the intent of your data. What does that mean and how does it happen? Hammerspace provides declarative objectives. These Objectives take multiple forms, such as GUI checkboxes that instantly determine things such as availability, durability, placement, protection, and host of other options. The same Objectives can also be realized through the Hammerspace CLI or Hammerspace Toolkit, which is downloadable through Git Hub. Finally, there is Hammerscript which provides nearly infinite options for how you can control your data and bend it according to your will or, in other words, your declared intent. The image below illustrates GUI as well as Hammerspace Toolkit options.

Declarative Objectives

Protect Your Data from Ransomware and Other Threats in Depth

Modern data protection requires mitigating multiple threats to data. In order to be useful data must be available. Hammerspace provides multiple mechanisms to protect against accidental as well as intentional attacks against data availability. Immutable Snapshots, Undelete, and WORM (Write Once Read Many) features provide comprehensive, layered, protection against accidental loss of data availability. Antivirus, Snapshots, Undelete, WORM, and File Versioning can protect against intentional attacks. However, as is the case with all information security protections, each mechanism must be well understood and correctly implemented to provide an effective defense. Hammerspace provides 4096 Snapshots per share, making the work of a ransomware crypto locker more difficult. Careful consideration must be given to snapshot retention since ransomware can remain undetected for a long period of time and, stealthily, encrypt older and infrequently accessed files first to avoid detection. A frequent snapshot schedule and regular “freezing” is strongly advised. Freezing is simply replicating, for example, several hourlies or dailies, to an offsite location such as Public Cloud. WORM can also provide an effective defense due to its immutable nature. This is particularly true for static files that contain data essential for company survival, compliance, regulatory, or other high-value classification. File Versioning is a new, exciting, and unique Hammerspace feature. File Versioning is often confused or conflated with snapshots. This is not the case here. Hammerspace File Versioning is triggered not by schedule but when a file is changed and subsequently saved. File Versioning, in addition to being a ground-breaking feature, also opens the door for early detection of file changes caused by Ransomware. Each of these features will be covered in-depth in future blogs.

Ransomware Protection

Conclusion

Legacy NAS and Cloud Gateways are technologies that have not withstood the test of time. Although meaningful and substantial innovations, the speed and agility of Cloud requires a paradigm shift that can keep up with swift and disruptive change. Data gravity weighs these aging technologies down and forces companies and organizations to focus on infrastructure, on the utility itself, instead of data. Modern solutions need to enable and empower data to survive the inevitable changes in underlying infrastructure. And that requires a fundamental shift in thinking. It requires a decoupling from infrastructure silos, elasticity and composability that can keep up with the disruptive innovation brought about by Public Cloud, global workforce enablement, automation and orchestration of resources needed to make data available, durable, and secure. That is what modern data management is all about. That is what Hammerspace is all about.