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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Nasuni Provides Storage as Service

April 15th, 2015 by Susan Smith

Nasuni, a provider of enterprise storage to global organizations, announced at Autodesk University in December 2014 the availability of the Nasuni Service version 6.2 with enhanced global file locking support for Revit Worksharing features. Nasuni also introduced a new entry-level desktop appliance, the NF-50 Filer, adding to the broad range of Nasuni Filers now available.

The Nasuni Service

The Nasuni Service

According to Andres Rodriguez, CEO of Nasuni, “In the AEC space, there is a rising movement to move storage toward a connective storage model. The reason is they have lots of files, and they needs lots of high performance access to those files. Increasingly, they want to be able to collaborate and spread the work across many geographies. The architecture and construction firms will have their teams very close to the project. They also want to leverage the whole firm’s expertise and talents where ever they happen to be working in the world. Connective storage enables you to do that.”

Cloud based systems make it possible for these firms to basically have a dataset that is in the cloud and is accessible by anyone at these locations. Firms then do not have to maintain a very complex infrastructure, as Nasuni provides storage as a service.

“We take all the pain away from the firms that think of primary storage, backups, site to site replication, and their own capabilities, by allowing them to collaborate at very large scale across geographies,” said Rodriguez. “Without this technology it’s not even possible to enable collaboration at that scale. The use case may not be as ambitious as collaboration at scale when all you want to do is have a lot of storage that’s accessible at high performance. You don’t have to worry about protecting it yourselves, or the backup, on every one of these sites. The whole idea of cloud based assistance makes it possible to do that. And to streamline your IT department.”

The file locking is a feature of the global file system. A global file system very important to firms, and allow them to have a file system that not only is very scalable, but doesn’t need to be protected with additional backups. It can also be accessible at high performance in full read/write mode from multiple locations. The additional lock makes it so when teams are doing this from different locations, they don’t corrupt or step over each other’s work. The other teams cannot overwrite that work.

“This is officially the functionality that has existed at the level of a single site for years,” said Rodriguez. “You have best of class apps, like Autodesk Revit to leverage that functionality to allow work sharing features in projects. What we’ve done is assimilated that functionality and expanded it, to any number of other locations.”

“Our lock manager doesn’t run in any one of our devices on any one site. It is running as a cloud service as part of a Nasuni service so it’s robust, it doesn’t fail because it’s not a single hardware unit. It’s also very scalable – as the teams increase the amount of work they’re doing with the file system, our lock manager has a scaling capability that allows it to grow with the workload.”

A firm with 3,000 people accessing the same file system at the same time has the ability to scale and taper performance at scale. Because it runs as a cloud service it is also run across multiple firms with data centers, which allows it to withstand single failures. It doesn’t matter what happens at the site level, the lock manager is always available.

In the past it’s been so hard to maintain collaboration and maintain file synchronization across sites that many organizations. The data ended up in silos, where each site is independent from other sites, when it comes to the projects themselves, the 3D models they’re working on.

“For the first time we’re enabling real Autodesk Revit collaboration on a scale that hasn’t been possible in the past,” said Rodriguez.

What makes that possible is the central file is shelved in the global file system where a single copy of that file is actually being shared across every single location. You’re not making copies of the file. You’re actually seeing the same single copy of the file and the global file is guaranteed uncorrupted by versioning it, and protection copies behind the scene to make sure file is always protected.

This is for very high workloads. “In our case we support offices of 1,000+ engineers and architects collaborating on single models at very high levels of performance,” Rodriguez explained. “At many of these places the network activities aren’t all that great. They want their applications very close to where their users are, and they want to be able to be resilient. Many workers are used to the power of the Autodesk suite in the local workstations. What you have to do is think of the problem in reverse. You have to bring the data close to the end user and very close to the apps, so you allow them to work at network speeds for high performance at 100 GB network speeds on their models. These engineers and architects have to be close to project data, it has to feel local.”

This latest release of the Nasuni Service builds on Nasuni’s recent 6.0 release, which added powerful new functionality, including:

  • Cloud-based global file locking: Enables worldwide collaboration with the storage industry’s first cloud-scale global lock that has no single point of failure.
  • Laptop file synchronization: Nasuni’s desktop and laptop synchronization builds on its existing mobile data access capabilities. Employees can choose a folder on their PC for local files that will not only be synchronized back to the Nasuni service where they will be protected, but files are also available to the rest of an employee’s devices, including desktops, Apple iOS and Android mobile devices.
  • Expanded protocol access: Nasuni data has long been available through the CIFS, NFS, iSCSI and HTTPS protocols. Nasuni 6.0 added FTP and Secure FTP access and a “mixed mode” that combines access on NFS and CIFS/SMB protocols to provide better access and availability for mixed Windows and Linux customers.

“Revit/BIM and CAD applications in general present unique challenges to distributed end-users in AEC organizations like ours. The Nasuni service certainly met our initial file sharing goals for our CAD applications, but IT wanted to challenge it further to meet another goal — to deliver the high performance and fast project open and synchronization times our BIM end-users wanted in Revit,” said Don Richhart, Network Administrator for KJWW, an international engineering consulting firm specializing in healthcare, higher education, K-12, commercial, government and industrial buildings. “After working closely with Nasuni, we can now eliminate the need for Revit Server and still provide shared access to central projects, models, and drawings on our workstations, laptops, or even iOS and Android mobile devices. Nasuni’s cloud-based global file locking technology supports share mode file locking which is used by Revit so our end-users can safely collaborate on files no matter where in the world they happen to be based.”

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Categories: 2D, 3D, AEC, AECCafe, architecture, AutoCAD, Autodesk, BIM, building information modeling, Cloud, collaboration, construction, consumerization, engineering, file sharing, global locking file systems, infrastructure

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