Rani Osnat, VP Marketing at CTERA, stopped by to introduce me to version 4.0 of the company's cloud storage products.The conversation roamed from a discussion of CTERA's cloud storage platform, how company's might use this service and the security implications of storing critical data off site in a cloud service provider's data center.
What CTERA has to say about version 4.0 of its cloud storage platform
CTERA version 4.0 adds many new features across the CTERA application suite, with emphasis on a unified client for enterprise-class file sync & share and backup, plus secure mobile collaboration. With the new release, CTERA now offers per-tenant SLA policies that control in which storage bucket their data is stored, wider platform support for backup of virtual servers, and expanded scalability to hundreds of thousands of users.
Key features of the new platform release include:
- Team Collaboration: Plan-based control over user privileges to create and use team workspaces, derived from Active Directory groups. Corporate IT can thus restrict file sharing in a scalable, transparent manner.
- Mobile Security Policy: Remote wipe and "sandboxing" of synchronized files on the device, supporting Apple iOS and Android devices, with Windows Phone 8 planned soon.
- Cloud Storage SLAs: Differential service levels by storage pool, enabling customers to differentiate their offerings to end-users based on storage infrastructure features, such as redundancy, performance or uptime guarantee.
- Enhanced Scalability: Supporting multiple database servers for customer instances in the cloud, making it possible to scale out a CTERA-based service to multiple customers with hundreds of thousands of connected gateways and end-points.
- Microsoft Hyper-V Backup: Hypervisor-level backup that allows fast backup, replication and recovery of VMs on Hyper-V servers.
- Microsoft SharePoint Backup: Application-aware backup and recovery of SharePoint servers. This is added to Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server and Active Directory backup, already supported by CTERA.
- Active Directory Integration: Full integration with corporate Active Directory and LDAP for user authentication and single sign-on (SSO). This includes support for complex tree and forest topologies, as well as Kerberos authentication protocols.
With the ever-present focus on cost reduction strategies and the increasing need for agility, cloud storage would appear to address quite a number of challenges facing companies today.
Storage could easily be spun up or down as needed by actual workload requirements without forcing the company to acquire storage devices or pay for the data center floor space, power and cooling storage requires.
Companies could conduct a pilot of data-intensive applications without having to purchase systems or storage. If the pilot was successful, the companies would then have a choice of pulling the workload back into their own data center or leaving it in the data center of the cloud service provider(s).
The challenges faced by this concept usually fall into one of the following categories:
- Performance — Will the outsourced storage be able to keep up with the demands of the application? Will the service provider step up and offer a service level agreement?
- Cost — Will the actual cost of using outsourced storage live up to the promises made by the service provider?
- Management — Will the outsourced storage fit into the company's management infrastructure easily or will it require training and a new set of management tools?
- Security — Will the cloud service provider be able to prove that only company authorized individuals will be able to access and use the data stored in the cloud? Stories about widespread snooping by the U.S. Goverment has increased concerns in this area.
CTERA has engineered version 4.0 of its cloud storage products to address all of the above concerns. Data is encrypted before being launched into the network and is maintained in encrypted form in the service provider's data center. The company holds the encryption keys so the service provider can't offer back-door access to the data. CTERA's portal makes management of the cloud storage service easy. Furthermore, data can be stored in several different cloud services offering increased levels of reliability.
When companies consider the costs of acquiring and managing storage, taking advantage of cloud storage services can appear to be a very appealing option. CTERA believes that version 4.0 of its cloud storage platform with its file synchronization and sharing features, mobile security and the ability to support service level agreements, makes cloud storage even more attractive.