Nasuni, a provider of enterprise storage to large, distributed organizations, has detailed how architecture and engineering firms have embraced the Nasuni storage solution to solve two challenges that have long been acute pain points for these industries: synchronizing very large files between multiple locations and providing uniform data protection for their entire organization.
For architecture and engineering firms, large BIM and CAD files form the backbone of their business. Designs are their product, so it goes without saying that they must be readily accessible to those who need them and that they must be protected, so that IT can recover this valuable data from accidental deletion or a data center disaster. For IT storage professionals in architecture and engineering, providing these storage services has been proven extremely challenging, especially given the size of the files, which can run as large as 100 to 300 GB.
Nasuni, however, provides a solution to both challenges. With Nasuni, the gold copy of all data is encrypted using customer keys and then stored in the cloud, with cached versions of the most frequently used files also stored locally in a Nasuni Filer appliance for fast access. This revolutionary storage architecture completely transforms the way in which enterprise storage is managed, provisioned and delivered. For example, if a Nasuni Filer in any office is destroyed or malfunctions, no other locations are affected. What’s more, as soon as IT installs a new Filer (either a hardware appliance or a virtual machine), everyone in that office immediately has full access to the global fileshare. And there’s no need to back up local filers because the data already lives in the cloud – very robust redundancy is built into the cloud’s architecture – and because Nasuni’s UniFS cloud-based file system is based on snapshots, which enables Nasuni to roll back to any previous version of a file.
Here’s how just a handful of Nasuni’s architecture and engineering customers are using the solution:
The largest landscape architecture firm headquartered in the Southwest, TBG Partners has 140 people in seven offices. As a landscape architecture firm, TBG uses a lot of illustrations – sometimes hundreds of 100 MB JPG files on a single project – which created a storage challenge for their small IT department. Additionally, TBG was struggling with data protection, as tape backup had become unmanageable. Like many small IT organizations, TBG depended on non-IT volunteers to manage tape backup at many locations, so keeping track of tapes was difficult, and corrupted tapes were a big problem.
With Nasuni, TBG has unlimited capacity, so he never needs to worry about buying additional disks or tapes. In fact, the terabyte/year pricing for data in the service was so compelling, Greg Nichols, Director of Technology, recently decided to put all of the company’s archive data on Nasuni as well, because it would cost essentially the same to archive that data on Amazon Glacier. As for data protection, Nichols has Nasuni set to back up the entire storage infrastructure every five minutes.
“If someone loses a file, I can get it to them with Nasuni in just a few minutes,” Nichols said. “That is invaluable for a firm like us. A lot of people lose files, delete directories, lose directories. We restore deleted files for various reasons at least a couple times a month. Before Nasuni, it could take hours or, if I had to retrieve a tape, maybe even a day or so to restore a file.”
Barry Isett & Associates
Based in Allentown, Pa., and serving clients throughout the Mid-Atlantic states, Barry Isett provides single-source responsibility and start-to-finish project involvement in the design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and replacement of facilities. With its associates spread out over six offices, backup was a constant problem. The IT team is small, so non-IT employees handled changing backup tapes, which led to backup failures from time to time.
Likewise, giving remote offices access to the fileshare was cumbersome. Eight years ago, Barry Isett had invested in a WAN optimization solution that was no longer able to provide adequate performance as file sizes had increased to 100 MB or more. Uploading files to a branch office could take two to three hours, which slowed down the network for everyone else.
All new projects are now on the Nasuni infrastructure, and Jim Bonczek, Manager, Information Technology, has installed a hardware Filer in each office.
“I don’t want to have guys waiting to do their work,” Bonczek said. “Any time they’re sitting down and not being billable isn’t good. We did this to keep our team more productive. We even rolled out mobile access, so they can access files on their mobile devices when they’re working outside of an office. The guys love it. They’ve always got fast access to the most recent files, and no one has to bother with backup.”
A full service civil engineering, land surveying and land planning company, Manhard Consulting has been in business for more than 40 years. Today, the company has eight offices from Illinois to California.
Manhard had distributed file storage, with backups either on tape or, more recently, on external hard drives. Manhard had a SAN in place for about 10 years, and it intended to buy SANs for all of its other offices to protect data through block storage replication. But then the housing bubble burst, and the construction industry plunged into crisis.
Now that the economy has improved, Manhard’s Director of IT, Donald Willemarck considered going ahead with his original plan, but, if he did that, he realized he would have to hire additional IT staff to manage and maintain the storage infrastructure.
After an exhaustive 15-month search, Willemarck decided on Nasuni.
“What led me to pick Nasuni was that it’s a storage infrastructure service we can budget for every year with everything included,” Willemarck said. “That means a lot. I’m done with buying commodity hardware and getting locked into a maintenance contract every year. I love the one-stop shop that Nasuni offers: file synchronization, automatic backup and DR, centralized management. With Nasuni taking care of storage, that enables us to focus on more strategic business directives.”
“Architecture and engineering organizations collaborate extensively on very large files, a situation that has stretched the capabilities of traditional, big-iron storage to the breaking point,” said Andres Rodriguez, CEO of Nasuni. “Our cloud-integrated storage service provides an elegant, efficient, complete solution at a price that’s often less than they pay now for backup alone. We’re entering a new era for storage in which the data is finally freed from devices. Nasuni is leading the way.”