Served Spicy: Cohesity File Shares and Home Directories

By Andre Franklin • May 30, 2019

Corporate file shares and home directories. These use cases haven’t changed in dozens of years. All the problems and challenges of deploying and managing file shares and home directories were solved years ago… or were they?

I found no challenge using my manual electric heater appliance years ago. It was easy… just turn it on, set it to high or low heat…and wait for the room to get warm and toasty. It was only when I bought another heater that had thermostatic temperature control…and remote control that I realized the insufficiency of the manual heater. And so it is with file shares and home directories managed by IT. Yesterday’s basic features such as quotas, user permissions, and non-disruptive scalability have become table stakes. But like my heater experience, you often don’t know of new and helpful features and functions until you look at what’s available.

Cohesity spice for files and objects

Cohesity adds unexpected “spice” to what is often considered one of the most boring and static use cases in all of IT. We do this with a few really cool “spices” that provide supercharged search, integrated anti-virus protection and file audit, small-file optimization, and cross-volume sliding window dedupe. In a word, this is not your grandfather’s file environment. It’s the features you may never have thought about, but can create large time- and cost-savings in managing corporate file shares and home directories.

Here are the Cohesity spices we’ve added to our delicious file sharing and home directory recipe…

  • Single-pool dedupe – A single dedupe pool scales across all storage volumes at a site regardless of the number of hardware units or hardware generation. There are no scenarios where the solution needs to store the same block in more than one place at a site.
  • Sliding window variable dedupe – Dedupe is always efficient regardless of duplicate data size as we adjust to the exact size of the data to be deduped. The sliding window recognizes duplicate ranges even if an insertion or deletion has caused them to not align to the same block boundaries as when the data was first seen.
  • Cross-application dedupe – Thanks to the continuously variable block size, it’s not necessary to segregate different data types into different dedupe pools with different blocks sizes. When different applications receive the same information (file backup, file sharing, email backup, or data repositories), the extra copies are eliminated.
  • Single search – Execute a single file or object search across data centers, remote sites, and multiple clouds
  • Integrated anti-virus protection – Eliminates the cost and management effort of external ICAP servers for anti-virus protection. Cohesity AV apps run directly on the Cohesity platform, and scale anti-virus protection as the file environment scales.
  • File audit and insight – Integrated file audit and insight capabilities provide an understanding of how files are being used and a look into what data is stored. Also, there is monitoring for unusual file access patterns, audit logs for file activities, deep insight into file content itself, and flags for anomalous users and entities.
  • Small-file optimization – Storage of small files is optimized for greater efficiency and does not waste large amounts of block space.

Why is spicy better?

Did you sense my bias for spicy food? You are smart. And why do I like it spicy? No complicated answer here – it’s simply because it tastes better spicy – for me of course. And for age-old and “bland” use cases such as file sharing and home directories, Cohesity serves it spicy: more cost-effective, easier, less-time consuming… and possibly even more “fun”.

Squeezing more data into fewer disks across each enterprise storage volume can be exceptionally cost effective. When combined with other powerful data reduction technologies such as compression, sliding window variable dedupe, small file optimization, and no-cost clones, overall TCO can be shockingly lowered. We have customers reporting overall data reduction improvements of 200% and 300% versus other file storage products. When lots of similar data is spread out across multiple storage volumes and applications…the cost per TB drops substantially. Dedupe on a per volume basis can be substantially more expensive than cross-volume dedupe.

Single-search across a geographically dispersed hybrid enterprise saves lots of time versus having to execute multiple searches across various global silos. Integrated file audit and insight saves time when trying to understand file content, who did what – and when, or just monitoring for unusual file accesses that merit greater scrutiny. IT can search for prohibited file content – such as credit card information and personal information. Integrated anti-virus protection not only eliminates the high cost of an external ICAP server farm for AV processing, it also eliminates the management effort of external AV infrastructure. As the Cohesity file and objects environment seamlessly grows, anti-virus processing automatically grows with it.

The complete dining experience for files and objects

Spicy or not spicy, what matters most is an enjoyable dining experience. A slice of key-lime pie for dessert can turn a good dining experience into a great one. As for file sharing and home directories, extra spice won’t matter if a platform is complicated, hard to manage and scale-out, encumbered with multiple silos and point solutions, or just simply isn’t cost effective. And just like a nice dessert can make a big difference, so can a file and objects platform with integrated backup and recovery, cloud integration, and the ability to consolidate multiple silos and point solutions under a single pane of glass.

We obviously didn’t invent file shares and home directories, but we have taken a big step in making sure these use cases are a positive experience for customers.