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TwinStrata CloudArray Cloud Storage FAQ's
Where is TwinStrata located?
TwinStrata is located in Natick, Massachusetts, about 20 miles West of Boston.
When was TwinStrata founded?
TwinStrata was founded in 2007 by storage veterans Nicos Vekiarides and John Bates.
What is CloudArray?
CloudArray is a software solution that enables users to seamlessly add Cloud Storage to existing storage environments. CloudArray integrates a number of security and availability features and is compatible with Cloud Storage offerings from most major providers. It presents this Cloud Storage using an iSCSI interface, providing a high degree of flexibility and compatibility with applications. Cache, or local storage, accelerates data access to match performance of on-premise storage systems.
How long has CloudArray been on the market?
CloudArray was launched in May of 2010.
What do you mean when you say “Zero-Friction Enterprise Storage”?
Zero-Friction Enterprise Storage refers to the ease with which CloudArray enables access to Cloud Storage. There is no need to replace existing equipment or plan for additional data center footprint. Instead, using as little as "zero U" of rack space (using a software virtual appliance), and a few minutes of configuration time, unlimited data storage is available to your applications.
What Cloud Storage Providers (CSPs) are supported?
TwinStrata CloudArray supports a wide range of Cloud Storage Providers, virtually eliminating any concern around cloud vendor lock-in. In fact, should you choose to do so, you can connect to multiple Cloud Storage Providers simultaneously or easily switch from one to another. Supported Cloud Storage Providers include Amazon (S3 and RRS), AT&T, Windstream Hosted Solutions, Nirvanix, EMC Atmos providers, Mezeo, Scality, RackSpace, OpenStack, and we continually add others. To see the latest list of cloud storage providers supported, click here.
Can I change Cloud storage providers?
Yes, you can. That is a significant advantage of using CloudArray. With CloudArray, it’s a simple matter to configure multiple Cloud Storage providers to facilitate a migration of the data. Our extensive support offers a wide selection of Cloud Storage providers, thus eliminating the fear of vendor lock-in.
Can I use CloudArray with my private Cloud?
You can as long as the private Cloud you are using is one of the TwinStrata supported providers, including EMC Atmos, Scality, Mezeo or OpenStack.
Can I use multiple Cloud Storage providers?
Yes, you can use multiple Cloud Storage providers simultaneously. When you create a new volume, you simply use a template to assign the Cloud Storage provider you wish to use to a particular volume and allocate the desired amount of cache. Cloud Storage providers can be any mix of private or public Cloud Storage offerings.
How can I begin using Cloud Storage?
Cloud Storage is presented through an application programming interface (API) such as REST or SOAP. In order to access Cloud Storage, you’ll need to either connect applications to the Cloud via the APIs or use a cloud storage gateway that translates these API into standard storage protocols, such as iSCSI, that applications can easily connect to. CloudArray is an example of a Cloud Storage Gateway.
How do I know the Cloud won’t lose my data?
Some Cloud Storage providers keep three separate copies of the data in three geographically disbursed locations, providing a high degree of data redundancy. For critical data, a CloudArray volume can be configured so that one full copy of the data is kept locally to ensure local availability with other full copies in the Cloud. CloudArray also allows configuring two Cloud Storage providers and keeping two full data sets replicated.
Is Cloud Storage secure?
Yes, Cloud Storage is secure. While most cloud storage providers offer secure communication, CloudArray goes one step further. Data never leaves the CloudArray appliance without at-rest data encryption, which is enabled by default. CloudArray uses AES256 bit encryption. Equally important, the encryption keys are stored on the CloudArray appliance. By default, the keys are automatically and securely backed up to the CloudArray portal, but can also be backed up manually for those who wish to do so. Because the keys are not stored in the cloud and all of the data in the cloud is encrypted, the risk of unauthorized access to your data by the cloud provider is eliminated.
What are the advantages of using Cloud storage?
There are many advantages to using Cloud Storage. Benefits include:
- Cloud Storage has no initial acquisition costs (CAPEX), reducing or eliminating large startup costs.
- The utility model means you pay only for what you use each month, replacing the prepayment method used when purchasing traditional storage arrays as that purchase must accommodate expected future growth.
- Cloud Storage is elastic with nearly unlimited capacity. Should your storage needs grow, capacity will be available. Capacity forecasting, based on hardware footprints, becomes a thing of the past.
- Depending on the cloud provider, data may be protected across at least two, or even three, geographically disbursed locations, ensuring data availability.
- Cloud Storage is a self-service model, reducing support costs.
- Cloud Storage avoids the 3-5 year life cycle of traditional enterprise storage that requires upgrades and migrations on a regular basis.
What if my Cloud storage provider goes out of business?
If your Cloud Storage provider goes out of business, it’s a simple matter to change to another provider. The CloudArray appliance can be used to easily migrate the data from Cloud to Cloud or from the Cloud to local storage.
What is a private Cloud?
A private Cloud is different from a public Cloud in that the Cloud infrastructure is dedicated to specific customers rather than shared by multiple parties and can reside either locally in an existing data center or at a hosted location (the latter is sometimes referred to as a virtual private Cloud). Private Clouds can be shared across multiple business units, departments or even select companies, but effectively limit which parties have access.
What is a public Cloud?
A public Cloud offers typically offers compute or storage as a service. In a public cloud, infrastructure resources are shared across multiple customers using a multi-tenant model versus the dedicated equipment and dedicated administration costs of a traditional hosting model.
What is Cloud Storage?
Cloud Storage is Storage as a Service, a utility model for pay-as-you-go delivery of storage capacity. Instead of purchasing storage hardware, you can rent storage from internet providers, outsourcing some or all of your storage needs. Cloud Storage is resilient and elastic, providing robust capabilities and virtually unlimited capacities.
Why should I use CloudArray and not just connect directly to Cloud Storage?
Ease of connectivity is just one roadblock that is removed by using CloudArray. Another advantage of using CloudArray is that it supports many Cloud Storage providers, mitigating vendor lock-in. Finally, CloudArray provides caching, security, data reduction and high availability in one integrated package. In addition to the capabilities available today we’re constantly working to improve the appliance features and increase the number of supported APIs and vendors.
Can I delete data to reduce my Cloud storage costs?
Yes, you can. TwinStrata recommends that tools such as “File Shredder” be used when deleting data to ensure data deletion and not simply directory entry deletion.
Can I increase the size of my cache?
Yes. With CloudArray “Dynamic Caching”, you can easily resize the cache, up or down, with minimal impact. The CloudArray appliance is specifically designed to allow you to easily add and allocate additional storage as cache.
How can I estimate my costs?
Most Cloud Storage Providers have cost estimator tools available on their websites. Please see your chosen CSP web site for further information.
How can I tell if there is a problem with CloudArray?
In the event of a problem with CloudArray, an alert will be generated. The routing and notification information for these alerts is managed on the CloudArray portal. CloudArray support is notified in the event of a serious problem or alert generated by the CloudArray gateway.
How can I verify that my data has been copied to Cloud storage?
The easiest way is to verify that your data has been copied to Cloud storage is to see if you can read the data. Additionally, all Cloud Storage providers have reports to show how much data has been moved and stored. You can determine the status of the local cache and determine how much data has been copied by using Cloud Array Control to query the appliance. Finally, there are event logs that can be viewed on the CloudArray Portal.
How do I buy CloudArray?
Please contact us at 1-508-651-0199 or email@example.com
How does CloudArray use snapshots?
CloudArray snapshots provide point-in-time recovery capabilities with a minimum amount of overhead. Since they’re taken in the Cloud, there are minimal bandwidth requirements. Snapshot data is not cloned, thus only one copy of the data is kept. Keep in mind though that additional storage will be required to keep up with the change rate.
How quickly will a new physical appliance I purchase be shipped to me?
Typical fulfillment can be achieved in two weeks or less.
If need be, are you willing to send out a technician for support and maintenance issues?
Hardware is provided with on-site support. Software support is provided via phone and remote connectivity (when authorized).
If there is an error or alert, who is notified?
That depends on user settings. There are three levels of alerts: Critical, Important and Info. Alert notifications can be configured on the CloudArray Portal. Any CloudArray customer can set us these notifications to anyone in their organization.
What are the CloudArray storage costs?
CloudArray allows you to connect to many different Cloud Storage Providers (CSP). Each CSP has their own pricing structure. Actual storage costs can also vary based on the quantity of data stored in the Cloud. Please see the web pages for your chosen CSP to get a better idea of Cloud Storage pricing.
What is an ‘in-Cloud snapshot’?
CloudArray uses snapshots to preserves a view of the data at a specific point in time similar to volume level SAN snapshots you might take today. After the snapshot any changes to the data will be written to another location, in the Cloud, thus providing two views of the data one with the data as it looked at the time of the snapshot and one with the changes applied. With CloudArray, these snapshots take place in the Cloud and are thus called in-Cloud snapshots. Since CloudArray snapshots take place in the cloud there is little or no additional bandwidth required. There will be additional storage required based on the change rate of the data.
What is the break-fix policy on hardware?
Hardware defect support is provided via 24/7 phone support. Parts will be available by the next business day and support is available worldwide.
What is the CloudArray pricing model?
The CloudArray Appliance, whether Virtual or Physical, is typically purchased outright. There is a one-time fee for the appliance and a recurring 18% annual maintenance fee. This does not include Cloud Storage which will be a separate bill, or bills, from the Cloud Storage Provider, or providers, of your choice.
What is the turnaround time if I were to need a new physical appliance?
This is covered under break fix above. All equipment can be repaired to original status.
What reports are available?
Reports can be generated based on types of alerts, license key and date ranges.
Can I make the CloudArray cache greater than 2TB?
Yes, you can even if your underlying infrastructure only supports 2TB volumes. CloudArray can concatenate multiple volumes and use them as a single cache pool for a volume. The current maximum cache size for a single volume is 32TB.
Can I take advantage of the free 14-day CloudArray trial if I don’t use virtualization today?
You would have to set up a hypervisor to stand up the virtual appliance for the free 14-day CloudArray trial. Hypervisor software is freely downloadable and we’re happy to help you with the process.
Can I trial CloudArray?
Yes, and we encourage you to do so. To take advantage of our free 14-day trial, please visit: http://www.twinstrata.com/CloudArray-download. Please note that there are three videos on this page which are very effective tutorials. The CloudArray download, import, power-on and configuration typically takes less than an hour.
Can I update CloudArray?
Software updates are provided and download automatically. You have the option for when to accept and apply those updates.
Can I use Cloud storage for secure offsite backup?
Yes, you can. CloudArray has been successfully tested with many major backup software products. CloudArray should work with any backup software that allows directing the output of the backup to a hard drive. Since CloudArray presents a volume via industry standard iSCSI protocols, it easily integrates into existing environments.
Can I use CloudArray with Amazon EC2?
Yes, Amazon EC2 is a supported environment. Please note that you’ll need a 64 bit platform.
Can I use CloudArray with Hyper-V?
Yes, Microsoft Hyper-V is a supported Hypervisor. Please note that you’ll need a 64 bit platform.
Can I use CloudArray with VMware Player?
VMware Player is not supported for production deployment of CloudArray.
However, the CloudArray virtual appliance will function with VMware Player 4.0 for demonstration purposes, familiarization with the user interfaces, other non-production evaluation, etc. Please note that you’ll need a 64-bit platform.
Due to CloudArray hardware requirements, the initial import of the OVF on VMware Player will fail and you must click "retry" to relax the hardware requirements and proceed with the import. You may subsequently reduce the memory footprint to as low as 2GB if desired.
Can I use CloudArray with XenServer?
Yes, Citrix XenServer is a supported Hypervisor. Please note that you’ll need a 64 bit platform.
Does CloudArray use compression?
Yes, compression is enabled by default. When a volume policy is created, compression can be disabled if desired. In test cases, using live customer backup data which had previously been deduplicated, we have seen anywhere between 28% and 50% compression of the data.
Does CloudArray use deduplication?
Yes, CloudArray uses deduplication at a segment level. CloudArray's data reduction algorithms use deduplication to maximize compression ratios.
Does CloudArray use encryption?
Yes, encryption is enabled by default. AES256 bit encryption is used and the encryption keys are kept on the appliance, not in the Cloud, to ensure your data protection.
How long does it take to download the CloudArray Virtual Appliance?
It takes approximately 5 minutes to download the CloudArray Virtual Appliance on a typical internet connection, but the actual time will depend on your specific environment.
CloudArray for VMware is less than 500 MB. The Hyper-V image is a bit larger and the XenServer image is a bit smaller.
500 MB takes about:
- 4 minutes at 20 Mbps
- 8 minutes at 10 Mbps
- 16 minutes at 5 Mbps
I don’t have an iSCSI initiator on my Windows platform, can I still use CloudArray?
Yes, the Windows iSCSI initiator can be quickly downloaded from the Microsoft website at: http://www.microsoft.com
I don’t run Windows. Can I still use CloudArray?
Yes, you can. CloudArray supports multiple host operating systems.
I don’t use virtualization, can I still use CloudArray?
Yes. CloudArray is available as either a Virtual or Physical Appliance. If you don’t use virtualization, one option would be to purchase a physical appliance, a physical appliance with functionality equivalent to the Virtual Appliance. We have numerous models of physical appliances to choose from.
Isn’t restore from an off-site location less reliable and too slow?
Restoration from off-site is certainly not less reliable and arguably far more reliable. The speed of restoration will be dependent on available bandwidth and the amount of local cache but will often be faster than restoring from tape. Also, when restoring the CloudArray appliance in the Cloud or in a Hosted environment, more bandwidth is available, enabling in-cloud disaster recovery scenarios (i.e. recovering entire applications to the Cloud).
What are the advantages of using iSCSI?
iSCSI is very common in today’s data centers, allowing a level of ubiquity and connectivity that is far more flexible than other solutions because it works over standard Ethernet networks. Using iSCSI, raw volumes can be mounted on a wide variety of servers using a variety of operating and file systems.
What are the costs to trial CloudArray?
There are no costs to trial CloudArray. We provide the Virtual Appliance, which can be easily downloaded as well as temporary storage space.
What are the requirements for the Virtual Appliance?
- A Cloud or Hypervisor environment (Amazon EC2, VMware ESX / ESXi, Hyper-V, XenServer)
- 64 bit infrastructure
- 1-2 processors
- 4 GB Memory
- A minimum of 50 GB of disk space
What are the specifications for the Hardware Appliances?
Hardware Appliance specs vary by model number. More complete information can be found on the TwinStrata website. Briefly:
- Model 1i – 2U, Gigabit, 1.5 TB RAID 6 Storage
- Model 1 – 2U, Gigabit, 6 TB RAID 6 Storage
- Model 2 – 2U, 10 Gigabit, 12 TB RAID 6 Storage
- Model 2S – 2U, 10 Gigabit, 1.5 TB SSD RAID 6 Storage
- Model 3 – 6U, 4x10 Gigabit, 20 TB RAID 6 Storage
What happens if my Internet connection is down?
If your Internet connection is down, you will lose access to Cloud Storage and we will withdraw the volume from use since data “not in local cache” would be inaccessible.
If your data fits in cache, however, you’ll still have access to that data. When the Internet connection is restored, all of the changes will be asynchronously synched with the Cloud copy.
What happens if the CloudArray appliance is destroyed?
Since it’s a caching appliance, it can be easily recreated with the exception of the unflushed data from the cache. It’s a very simple procedure to go to an alternate site (or to the cloud), re-install the CloudArray appliance, restore the backup which was automatically saved for you at the CloudArray portal and have full access to your data.
What host operating systems can I use to connect to CloudArray?
Any platform that has a supported iSCSI initiator, for example: Windows, Linux, Solaris, HP-UX and VMware.
What is a “Physical Appliance”?
A Physical Appliance is a traditional appliance deployment model and comes in hardware form factors. TwinStrata offers 5 Physical CloudArray Appliances; four in a 2U rack mount enclosure and one in a 6U rack mount enclosure. In all cases, the features and functionality of the appliances is the same. Larger units have increased memory, network bandwidth, and local storage for cache but work exactly like their smaller counterparts as well as the virtual appliance.
What is a “Virtual Appliance”?
A Virtual Appliance is a deployment model for an appliance that runs in a virtual server environment. Effectively, a Virtual Appliance is a pre-built, software-only appliance that you import into your hypervisor and power on.
What is an iSCSI initiator?
An iSCSI initiator is an industry standard technology enabling Hosts to access block data volumes across a TCP/IP network. The CloudArray Appliance presents an iSCSI target. The iSCSI initiator is configured on the Server or Host where you’d like to access the volume presented by the CloudArray Appliance. It’s typically a very simple process to configure an iSCSI initiator and create a volume.
What is ‘cache’ and why does CloudArray need it?
Cache is storage attached to the appliance and is used as a buffer to speed up performance. For the Physical Appliances, the cache storage is pre-installed. For the Virtual Appliance, storage can be Direct Attached, SAN attached or NAS attached. Storage can be rotating disk or SSD.
When would I use a physical appliance rather than a virtual appliance?
Truthfully, it’s a simple matter of preference. If you’re not operating in a virtualized environment today, then a physical appliance might be preferred. Virtual appliances provide greater flexibility when attaching additional local storage for cache but physical appliances afford the convenience of preconfigured hardware.
Where do I install CloudArray?
CloudArray is available as either a Virtual or Physical Appliance and is installed at the same location as your production servers which can either be on your premises, in a hosted environment or even in the cloud.
Where is the CloudArray cache, must it be local?
It must be local to the appliance, although it needn’t be direct attached. Locally attached storage is a requirement to provide local speed performance.
Will CloudArray use all available bandwidth?
By default, yes, however it’s a simple matter to enable “Bandwidth Throttling and Scheduling” which allows you to restrict bandwidth utilization during peak or production periods while allowing maximum throughput during off hours.
How do I configure CloudArray?
CloudArray is configured via a standard web browser by navigating to the IP address of the CloudArray appliance.
What is a Cloud volume?
A Cloud volume is a block level volume that can be formatted and used for storage, just like any other volume you might mount on your server. It is mounted using iSCSI, an industry standard SAN protocol. The difference between a “Cloud” volume and volumes you may be familiar with is that a Cloud volume uses Storage-as-a-Service, utilizing storage space in the Cloud instead of locally on-premise. (There is some amount of local storage used as cache space in order to provide local speed performance.)
How should I size my Cloud volume(s)?
It’s generally best to size the Cloud volume fairly near the maximum expected size of the target data. Since Cloud Storage is a utility model and you only pay for the actual storage that you’ve consumed, the allocated volume size can be well in excess of the target data volume with no risk. Compression will likely reduce the data footprint in the Cloud even further. In the event your initial Cloud Volume size is not large enough, it’s a simple matter to increase the size of the volume.
What is CloudArray Control?
CloudArray Control is the local browser based administrative interface for configuring and manipulating the CloudArray Appliance.
What is the CloudArray Portal?
The CloudArray Portal is a secure hosted portal specific to CloudArray. In order to access the portal, you’ll need credentials, a user ID (your email address), and a password. Only you will have access to your portal. The portal contains software, user guides and other documentation, account information, report generation capabilities as well as the ability to collect and route alerts.
What is “Full Cache”?
In general, a Cloud volume can be larger than the local cache, which is only used to provide local speed performance and buffer access to the Cloud. However, you do have the option to click the “Full Cache” check box and retain one complete local copy of the data as well as one complete copy in the Cloud. You will see only one volume but there will actually be two copies, one local and one remote with the CloudArray Appliance performing asynchronous replication in the background. Alternatively, a cache size larger than your data volume ensures a local copy is maintained.
Can I use Cloud storage as primary storage?
Yes, you can use it anywhere you use local storage. Keep in mind that the overall performance is dependent on the amount of cache configured. Typically, a small cache may be unsuitable for demanding applications and we recommend resizing the cache appropriately.
If my Cloud volume(s) is not big enough, can I make it larger?
Yes. CloudArray supports dynamic volume expansion as long as the Host Operating System also supports this feature. Windows and Linux are both capable of supporting Dynamic Volume Expansion.
How large can I make a single Cloud volume?
Current CloudArray limits allow each volume to have a maximum size of 384TB.
Can I use CloudArray for Windows Shares?
Yes, you can. Simply mount a volume presented by CloudArray using iSCSI to an existing file server. You can use existing authentication and permissions policies and the Cloud Storage volume will be easily integrated into your existing environment.
Can I use CloudArray for NFS mount points?
Yes, you can. Typically, any supported file server that offers NFS can be used.
Can I use CloudArray with ZFS?
Yes you can use ZFS with its data integrity features, zPools and in-line deduplication.
Can I use CloudArray for backups?
Yes. You can use a CloudArray volume as the target for your existing backup software. CloudArray itself does not offer any backup software or agents.
You could easily implement a “backup-less” solution using a CloudArray volume with “full cache”. In this environment, you’d have a complete local copy of the data which the CloudArray Appliance would automatically replicate to the Cloud. CloudArray in-Cloud snapshots could be taken periodically to provide point-in-time backups.
Can I use CloudArray as both a file server and a backup server?
Yes, certainly. The CloudArray appliance is your gateway to Cloud Storage and you can easily create many volumes, each with different characteristics and even different Cloud Storage Providers.
Will CloudArray replace my existing backup solution?
No. Typically, CloudArray works in conjunction with your existing backup solution(s). Using your existing backup software, you simply use the volume presented by CloudArray as the target of your backups and your data will seamlessly and securely be copied to the Cloud.
Can I use CloudArray Cloud storage for archive data?
Yes, you can. Having a unique volume, with its own ‘archive’ characteristics is a good practice. Typically, archive volumes are fairly large and yet have small local cache since the data change rate is low.