Nexsan expands Unity portfolio with archiving box, desktop client

Nexsan’s new Unity Active Archive is expected to have a much larger market than Nexsan’s Assureon archiving product, because of its ease of use and deployment, broader use cases, and attractive pricing.

Unified storage vendor Nexsan has expanded its Unity family with Unity Active Archive, a hardware archiving box, and Desktop on Unity, a new desktop client which becomes the latest free add-on to the core Unity system.

Nexsan’s modern portfolio has focused on unified enterprise NAS product with block and object storage capabilities. Last April the channel-centric company announced Unity, which was much more than a rebranding. It added private cloud file synchronization obtained from the acquisition of Connected Data, as well as true data mobility support. EMC also announced a new product line with the Unity branding around the same time. The two companies wound up in court last fall stating their rights to the brand. The judge has not yet reached a ruling, and until that happens, both Nexsan and EMC continue to use the Unity branding.

Gary Watson, Nexsan’s Founder and VP Technical Engagement

“Unity started out as a nice unified filer with multiple protocols and a niche caching technology, whose sweet spot was in the hundreds of TB,” said Gary Watson, Nexsan’s Founder and VP Technical Engagement. “Then we announced the Unity strategy, a collaboration technology which was multi-site and synced to synchronize with other locations. Synchronization is a way to push files out to people who need them locally. That was step one and it has been shipping for months.”

Following that initial Unity unveiling, other components have been gradually rolled out.

“The first of these was the mobility pieces – IoS and Android,” Watson said. “These are also free, and have also been shipping.” A free Web Access app was released subsequently.

The new Unity Active Archive is designed to complement the existing hardware system by serving as a secure hardware archive for long-term unstructured data.

“This is a separate physical hardware box, designed to store fixed content data and capture and migrate data. Watson stated. “You set up the rules for when data are moved to archives and how long they are kept there. Most people have a lot of cold data, and archiving makes sense. Especially when primary storage is flash, there is powerful impetus to take colder data off flash to the archives.”

Unity Active Archive features include digital file fingerprinting and self-healing integrity audits, which eliminate threats of data loss, tampering and corruption, including ransomware. It also has the same synchronization and sharing features as the primary storage, because it uses the same Unity software.

Nexsan has sold its Assureon archiving system for years, and while the Unity Active Archive is based on Assureon technology, it has some major advantages to the Nexsan resellers who sell it.

“Assureon is very much focused around compliance, but everyone has data they want to protect long term, and this has a low cost per TB,” Watson said. “It’s so easy to do and so cost-effective that we expect there will be a lot more people using it. Assureon is also pretty technical to sell, and requires archiving expertise. With Unity Active Archive, all the integration is now done as part of Unity.”

The broader market for Unity itself should also create more opportunities for Unity Active Archive, Watson indicated.

“Unity can be sold as a filer, even as a backup target, because its so inexpensive, but there are places where they will come with archiving or mobility needs,” he said. “So it will open up new opportunities and give meaningful differentiation against other storage protection products.”

While all the other add-ons to the Unity portfolio come as part of the base license, so are free, Unity Active Archive is not. As it is an extra hardware device, there is an extra charge.

The other new offering, Desktop on Unity rounds out the free Unity accessibility options, which include the already released mobile and Web Access apps. Its selective sync lets users can choose the files they need to access when offline through a Windows or Mac app, providing access to Unity for users who don’t have access to the internet. Once the device is back online, all files will be synchronized back to Unity.