TwinStrata cloud-enables business applications

CloudArray software provides data protection and network-ready availability for mid-sized businesses

TwinStata's introduction of CloudArray software this week to enable integration between business applications and on- or off-premise cloud storage marks one of the first real-world business implementations of cloud-enabled storage. CloudArray provides the look, feel and performance of local storage to the cloud with enhanced availability, security and agility. 

With CloudArray, companies can easily and quickly implement a variety of solutions such as disaster recovery (DR), data replication, backup/restore, data and application mobility, archiving and more. Enabling the storage cloud for companies reduces the amount of on-premise infrastructure needed to accommodate business and rapid data growth and thereby reduces the capital required for expansion.

CloudArray software allows businesses to seamlessly integrate business applications with cloud storage without requiring changes to applications or programming to cloud storage APIs. Solutions such as disaster recovery for Microsoft Exchange Server, Office SharePoint Server and SQL Server are prime examples. The software, which can be installed as a virtual appliance supports applications running on both physical and virtual servers. It supports both public and private cloud storage and provides secure, offsite data protection with onsite access to data.

CloudArray operates on VMware, Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V, Amazon EC2 and supports connectivity to Windows, Linux, Macintosh, HP-UX and VMware host computers. It interfaces with a variety of cloud storage providers including Amazon S3, AT&T Synaptic and EMC Atmos onLine. The company plans to announce additional providers this year. On the application end, CloudArray presents iSCSI block data storage in the form of data volumes. On the cloud storage end, CloudArray interfaces with both private and public cloud storage APIs. No programming is required to store data to and from cloud storage.

CloudArray's data volumes can be managed, created and modified with user-defined policies for intelligent, adaptive caching, snapshot and replication. CloudArray volume can exist entirely in the cloud and parts of the volumes cached locally for fast access to data. CloudArray replicas exist in the cloud and are cached 100% locally. This volume policy provides asynchronous replication to the cloud, giving the organization two copies of the same volume at all times. And, CloudArray zero-footprint snapshots reside in the cloud and are mountable by the host.

A feature of CloudArray called Compute Anywhere allows business applications instant accessibility to data volumes on-premise, off-premise and in the cloud. For DR, DR-test, test and development, data distribution and many other use-causes, business applications can mount CloudArray volumes and begin operating instantly.

CloudArray is managed through a variety of means depending on the user's choice. IT can access a Web portal for management, use a command line interface (CLI) or even use the included graphical user interface (GUI).

CloudArray software supports solutions providing standard file-level protocols – CIFS and NFS – and offers AES encryption of both in-flight data and at rest data. Data transfer to the cloud is minimized via caching and data compression. And local caching can take place on direct-attached storage, network-attached storage, solid-state disk or storage area networks, with support for multiple dynamic caches on multiple storage types With these policies, caches can be optimized for cost, performance or availability to best meet application requirements.

CloudArray supports several main business-critical application categories: data protection applications, file and archive, and DR for business applications. For data protection, applications include support for Symantec's BackupExec, Veeam Backup and Replication, PHD Virtual's esXpress, Vizioncore's vRanger Pro, CA's ARCserve and Oracle RMAN, among others. For File and Archive, CloudArray supports popular file systems – Symantec's NFS-base FileStore, Oracle's ZFS and Windows CIFS-based NAS. Finally, DR for business applications, CloudArray presently supports Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, SharePoint Server 2007 and SQL Server 2008 providing companies with a method to replicate and archive data to cloud storage.

One of the most important features of CloudArray is its space-efficient snapshot capability. Snapshots can be taken at any interval to create a retention policy that is instantly accessible and can serve as a first line of data recovery with virtually no restore time. Because snapshots contain only changed data relative to the primary image, disk capacity requirements are minimized and because snapshots occur in the cloud, there is no associated bandwidth penalty. 

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