Nasuni lets businesses add cloud storage on the fly

In an move to simplify storage of data in a web-based cloud, Nasuni is unveiling new storage technology, the Nasuni Filer.

It’s a complex solution, but it simplifies how mid-sized and small businesses can get additional storage. You can sign up to get a new account and start uploading data to the cloud storage in as little as 15 minutes. The Natick, Mass., company says it effectively creates a “storage as a service” business.

Businesses can use Nasuni not just for backup; it’s fast enough for primary storage, said Andres Rodriguez, chief executive. That’s because Nasuni allows for a combination of local and cloud storage. The user keeps about 100 gigabytes of data on local disks inside the business. That storage is backed up to the cloud, but it is also accessible. The user can access that data at high speeds.

“We want to knock down the barriers that keep ordinary users away from taking advantage of cloud storage,” he said.

The Nasuni Filer is a virtual NAS (network attached storage) file server that runs on VMware virtualization software. It is targeted at the mid-market of companies that don’t want to buy their own giant storage systems from companies such as EMC or NetApp at high capital costs.

The Nasuni solution lets a business add storage on an incremental basis, adding it or deleting it as needed. Capacity in web-connected data centers, or the cloud, is unlimited. Companies using Nasuni pay for only what they need, as they need it. That lets companies avoid infrastructure expenses, said Laura DuBois, research director at market analyst IDC in its storage software division.

The service has features that are important to businesses such as advanced caching, snapshot, and deduplication technologies. The system lets a company administrator easily manage the storage capacity, without needing to buy and install actual hardware. The Nasuni Filer is available now for download for free during the beta testing period.

Nasuni has backup for its data center for disaster protection, and it has built-in file protection for better security. Nasuni captures the entire file system on an hourly basis and saves snapshots to the cloud. The files themselves are not visible to Nasuni itself or the cloud vendors.

Essentially, Nasuni provides the software for virtualized storage. It lets users pick which cloud service they want to use, such as Iron Mountain or Amazon S3 storage. More partners will be available later. After the beta test is done, Nasuni will charge $200 per storage filer per month, on top of the cloud vendor fees, which it passes through without markup for the user to pay.

The company was founded by storage industry veterans Rodriguez and Robert Mason in 2009 and has 25 employees. Competitors include Twinstrata and Cirtas. Nasuni raised $8 million in a first round in March, 2009, from Sigma Venture Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners.