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Top 5 Enterprise Cloud-Based NAS Consolidation Solutions

Ctera Enterprise File Services Platform, NetApp Cloud Volumes, Nasuni File Data Platform, Panzura CloudFS, Zadara zStorage

DorseyThis market report, published on November 2, 2023, was written by Todd Dorsey, senior storage analyst at Data Center Intelligence Group LLC (DCIG).



2024-25 DCIG TOP 5 Enterprise Cloud-Based NAS Consolidation Solutions Report Now Available

This report provides guidance on the top 5 providers organizations should consider to gain the benefits of consolidating file data in the cloud.

Cloud-based NAS consolidation benefits
In a recent article Cloud-based NAS Consolidation Solves Enterprise Data Sprawl, we discussed the challenges organizations have with massive data growth compounded by storage and location proliferation. That these challenges include a lack of visibility into the what and where of their file data across their organization. Ultimately, these challenges impact data governance, analysis, security, compliance, planning, costs, and IT’s mission of providing the technical resources the organization requires to achieve its goals.

Cloud-based NAS consolidation, based on enterprise-class SDS, takes a different approach to handling the growing accumulation of unstructured data. It migrates file data from multiple file servers and NAS devices into a cloud-based storage platform. The best solutions provide fast, flexible, usable, managed access for all an organization’s end users and applications while addressing the challenges of data growth across the enterprise.

Because SDS serves as a foundation for cloud-based NAS consolidation solutions, these solutions capitalize on the benefits of SDS, such as:

  • Scalability. Especially for solutions using public cloud providers as the data store, the public cloud represents unlimited storage that can scale on demand without requiring capital hardware purchases. If new capacity is needed, an administrator can quickly turn this up. Organizations only pay for what they use, scaling up or down their storage capacity as their needs require.
  • Flexibility. In contrast to disparate storage systems and devices dispersed across multiple locations, a cloud-based NAS presents a single unified storage pool. This means administrators can allocate storage capacity dynamically to users, groups, and applications as needed. Many cloud-based NAS solutions allow organizations to leverage multiple cloud providers as well as on-premises private cloud solutions. Thus, organizations can align the placement of data with cost, compliance, or workload priorities.
  • Global file management capabilities. Global views, including permissions management, capacity utilization, and analytics, enable new opportunities for ensuring optimal performance and cost for managing an organization’s unstructured data. For distributed enterprises, cloud-based NAS consolidation solutions allow an administrator to administer a broad set of file management services across cloud providers and hundreds or thousands of nodes, sites, and users from a single interface. Administrators can apply data governance policies across their file estate. While the dynamics causing file growth still occur, these solutions give enterprises the tools to discover and manage files globally.
  • Multi-protocol file support. Cloud-based NAS consolidation solutions commonly support multiple file storage protocols. This flexibility allows organizations to select the best-fit protocol for each use case. Many cloud-based SDS solutions expand upon file sharing and collaboration features inherent within file storage protocols so that remote teams and users can collaborate on files from anywhere.

Cloud-based storage benefits
In addition to SDS benefits, cloud-based storage systems bring additional benefits to organizations such as:

  • Cyber-resiliency. Cloud-based storage systems bring enhanced capabilities for ensuring data availability in the face of cyberattacks. These solutions leverage features like immutable storage, replication, snapshots, backups, and automated failover to both mitigate and recover quickly from a cyberattack or other unforeseen event.
  • Multicloud storage architectures. As an alternative to relying on one cloud provider for all storage requirements, cloud-based NAS consolidation solutions can often utilize multiple cloud providers for vendor diversity and flexibility. Infrastructure managers can place file data in the cloud provider best suited to business priorities or make data available to specialized services within a cloud ecosystem. Further, organizations may choose a particular cloud provider because of regulatory compliance or data sovereignty requirements.
  • Offloads storage infrastructure management. For public cloud storage, much of the burden of storage infrastructure management moves from the customer organization to the cloud provider. Cost management (space, power, labor), complexity (performance management, networking, administration), and capacity planning (monitoring, acquiring, implementing) shifts out of the enterprise. By offloading these activities to the cloud provider, enterprises reduce IT costs for on-premises file data management.
  • Reduces infrastructure hardware costs. By moving their unstructured data to centralized cloud storage, organizations can eliminate the expenses and procurement cycles for NAS devices and file servers across their locations. For the data center especially, less hardware translates into less physical space, which means a smaller footprint and reduced energy and cooling costs when compared to legacy solutions.
  • Reduces administrative costs. As noted above, cloud-based NAS consolidation enables administrators to centrally manage storage resources across the data landscape from a single interface. This model simplifies storage administration and reduces the need for multiple tool sets to manage different NAS devices and file servers. Cloud-based NAS solutions often include automation features for common data management tasks. Organizations can leverage APIs to integrate their cloud storage solution into 3rd-party automated workflows.
  • Global file access. Cloud-based file storage enables access to file data from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. For remote locations, the ideal cloud-based NAS solutions cache copies of active files at the edge on a virtual or physical appliance, which are then synchronized to a master file stored in the cloud. Administrators can configure permissions for teams and groups to ensure data security.

These benefits and more provide organizations with a global, centralized file platform that addresses the needs of scalability, costs, governance, compliance, security, analysis, and decision-making in the context of an avalanche of accumulating data. Further, organizations can experience notable time and cost savings with cloud-based NAS consolidation, allowing IT staff to shift their attention to other activities that bring value to their organization. Finally, because cloud-based NAS solutions incorporate new cloud technologies as they become available, enterprises future-proof their storage infrastructure with cloud-based NAS solutions. Future-proofing that ensures the enterprise IT organization is adaptable and capable of meeting changing business needs in the years ahead.

2024-25 DCIG top 5 enterprise cloud-based NAS consolidation solutions
DCIG identified 31 companies offering products meeting definition of a SDS-based NAS consolidation solution.

The general feature categories evaluated include:
• Deployment capabilities
• Data protection capabilities
• Product and performance management features
• Technical support
• Licensing and pricing

Based on its evaluation of these features, the following SDS-NAS providers earned DCIG TOP 5 award (in alphabetical order):
• Ctera Enterprise File Services Platform
• NetApp Cloud Volumes
• Nasuni File Data Platform
• Panzura CloudFS
• Zadara zStorage