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July 12 2017

From NAS to CloudNAS

I love NAS. I was the founder of ReadyNAS, which together with Buffalo’s Terastation created the desktop NAS market ten years ago. With our patented X-RAID and the world’s first network storage processor code-named Padre, the 4-drive 1TB ReadyNAS became the trusted place on the network for many photographers and businesses to keep their valuable data. The conventional wisdom at the time was that if you want performance and features, get the ReadyNAS. And if you want low price, go with Terastation. It always gave me great satisfaction when strangers I just met told me “My ReadyNAS is still working after x years.” While I still love NAS for its performance and shared drive convenience, much has changed in the last ten years. Cloud reliability, scalability, and ease of access have made cloud a great place to store data and enterprises are aggressively deploying the cloud model. These advantages address many of the challenges NAS faced – need for backup, access from outside of office, sharing files between sites, etc. However, cloud storage also has drawbacks. I can easily see two: performance and cost. Performance is challenging for traditional cloud storage. The user may barely feel the occasional delay when dealing with regular office files. However, everyone has experienced the tortuous wait when trying to upload photos and videos to the cloud. With NAS, users share files on a Gigabit local network. With cloud storage, files are sent to the cloud and back to be shared amongst local users. This problem gets worse when many users need to access files simultaneously. One solution is to spend more to increase the Internet bandwidth, a futile pursuit as file sizes seem to grow much faster than bandwidth increase. However, now there is a way to have the best of both worlds – NAS and Cloud! We started the CloudNAS project in 2014 and it’s not a simple one. We had to design a global file system so users in remote offices can collaborate as if they were on the same network without VPN. We designed the xCache to ensure good performance when accessing cloud data. All devices, users, and file system management is done in the cloud through a single interface. Through good engineering we succeeded in combining NAS and enterprise grade cloud storage (Amazon S3). CloudNAS is now working well and we are enabling Bring Your Own Storage (BYOS) and will be adding more enterprise features like Active Directory. In a few days, we will partner with a low cost cloud storage provider to offer a CloudNAS option at a compelling price point to smaller businesses and prosumers. This will help many users in this group to migrate their data to the cloud, just like ReadyNAS moved data to NAS. And this time around, the drives are all vaporized while we retain the performance.

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June 27 2017

Did You Know Cached Cloud Storage is a Plug-in Hybrid?

I love the Chevy Volt. It’s a plug-in hybrid – an electric car that also has a gasoline engine for backup. It gets around the city mostly on electricity, but also has the flexibility to travel from San Jose to LA with one gas refill. I also love the Morro CacheDrive G80. With the CacheDrive I get the scalability and reliability of the cloud merged with the performance of a local drive. It’s the best of both worlds – like a plug-in hybrid. The CacheDrive accesses my cloud files with a 1TB SSD cache. Most of the time the files are in the cache so I can access them quickly (like on a NAS). One of the big benefits of this technology is that in just seconds I can save large loads of photos and videos on the cloud by transferring them to the G80 on the network. I don’t have to wait for the files to upload from the G80 to the cloud. The G80 dutifully does the upload for me, so I am free to walk away with my computer. For a multi-user office using the CacheDrive, the gain in productivity is even more pronounced. A group of users can share files directly on the cache without waiting for the files to upload and then download from the cloud. This is a great way to conserve Internet bandwidth since download traffic is reduced to zero when files are in the cache. Just as a plug-in hybrid saves on gas consumption, the CacheDrive drives down Internet bandwidth usage. Caching enables better productivity and helps with bandwidth optimization. Morro Data combines the best of both worlds with fast local caching and reliable cloud storage. Users access files through the network shares on a small CacheDrive appliance just like a traditional NAS. What is different is that the CacheDrive shares are “connected” to cloud storage where the user data is safely kept while the recently accessed files remain in the local cache. Furthermore, files are synced to users in different offices via CacheDrives.

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June 20 2017

Did You Know Cache Speeds Up Slow Cloud Storage?

Cache is a powerful performance enhancement concept. It is used in microprocessor design to speed up instruction and data access from the much slower main memory. The single most important difference between an Intel i7 processor and an i3 is the processor cache size. In web browser design, cache is also used to speed up access to websites. A new area in which cache is being used to accelerate access is cloud storage. Given the ever-increasing file sizes and multi-user environments, a network cache appliance for cloud storage can help bridge the performance gap between the user’s PC and the slower Internet. Let’s say you have a Gigabit network and your Internet upload speed is 20 mbps. Such network cache appliances allow you to transfer files at Gigabit speed and actual file upload happens in the background at 20 mbps, retransmitting on errors if necessary. You can see that for larger files this allows the user to work 50X faster, not needing to wait for the file upload to complete. Internet bandwidth is also optimized when users can access files directly from the cache. When a file is written through the cache to cloud storage, the file is available for access to all users on the network, saving additional download traffic. The users access files on the cache the same way as on a NAS or a file server. Yet another advantage of using cache is that all files in the cloud are visible and accessible no matter the size of your total cloud storage. There is no need to selectively sync files to the cache because all files are already mapped to the cache. Simply said, caching enables fast cloud storage access and accessibility to all files.  Morro Data CloudNAS combines the best of both worlds with fast local caching and reliable cloud storage. Users access files through the network shares on a small CacheDrive appliance just like a traditional NAS. What is different is that the CacheDrive shares are “connected” to cloud storage where the user data is safely kept while the recently accessed files remain in the local cache. With CloudNAS, it’s as if the hard drives of a NAS vaporized into the cloud but the high performance remains. The CacheDrive G40 uses a 1TB HDD and the CacheDrive G80 uses a 1TB SSD as cache.

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June 12 2017

Cache and Sync Over FTP

A lot of posts have been written about why FTP is not a good solution for a lot of the use cases for which FTP is used. This blog post gives a good summary of why FTP is outdated. https://whydoesitsuck.com/why-does-ftp-suck/. So why is it that, even though businesses have first-hand experience on why FTP is not a suitable solution, do they continue to use FTP today? The reason is that the alternatives to FTP have only solved one aspect of the FTP workflow, which is, un-ironically, the file transport portion. What they have not addressed is the file transport workflow. Although solutions such as Aspera, Signiant, or File Catalyst exist today, they are geared towards enterprise-sized organizations leaving SMBs priced out of those solutions. What is file transport today? File transport is about moving files from your file store to someone else’s file store for the purposes of file distribution or collaboration. Even though there are file sharing and file hosting services available today, they are not effective at handling file transport for businesses that either have a lot of little files, some very big files, or even worse, a lot of very big files. The task overhead is compounded when internet connections are slow or of lower quality. Users that handle transporting many large files are tasked with one very important requirement: files must arrive in a timely manner and in their entirety. In order to ensure that files arrive in their entirety, the File Transport workflow requires the following steps. Sender generates an MD5 checksum for each file that needs to be uploaded. Sender transfers the files up (user babysits the upload) Verify the checksums of the uploaded files. Contact the recipient that files are ready for download. Recipient transfers the files down (user babysits the download). Recipient verifies the checksums of the downloaded files. Most file transport solutions including point-to-point UDP file dumps or cloud based file-sharing / file-hosting solutions handle only step 2 and step 5 without handling the most time-consuming part of that process: babysitting the transfer. It’s no surprise that many SMBs continue to use FTP. With replacement solutions, the users still have to verify that file transports are completed in their entirety and they have to monitor those uploads or downloads because any interruptions will only delay the arrival of the files. It’s the worst of both worlds. Examining the workflow from end-to-end reveals that by improving the process for the users outside of the transfer portion improves productivity for users much more with the benefits from implementing alternatives to FTP an add-on rather than a necessity. Cache and Sync Cache and Sync is the process of storing information locally for faster access and unifying information so that it’s available everywhere. Cache and Sync process utilizes a CacheDrive (Cache) and the Morro Sync Engine with Global File System (Sync) to improve the transport process for the senders and recipients. CacheDrives are deployed on the local network and appear as local storage drives. The drive letter interface for PC or the mounted drive interface for Mac and Linux means that senders can simply drag and drop their files into a predefined share. Once the file is copied, the CacheDrive transfers the file to the cloud and the Sync Engine transfers the file to the CacheDrive which appears as a local storage drive on the target network. Recipients can then simply copy the files from their network folder to the location they need to use the files. Since the system must perform checks to ensure files are transported correctly and controlling both points of the transfer means knowing when files have completed their journey accurately. Using Cache and Sync, the File Transfer workflow for the sender and recipient becomes: Sender saves file over the LAN. Recipient accesses files over the LAN when alerted that transfer is completed. A six-step process is reduced to two. Users no longer need to babysit their ends of the process and files are checked by the systems to ensure transfer is complete and accurate. Transport speeds are near the maximum possible (you can still use those accelerators to improve Internet transfer speeds). By taking the user out of most of the workflow steps, productivity increases even with the natural bottlenecks that exist in today’s internet infrastructure. FTP is a productivity sink because of the way it’s designed to work. SMBs use complex workflows to accommodate the limitations of FTP. Selecting tools that improve workflow is an investment that pays back again and again.

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May 17 2017

4 Ways to Sync Files Across Offices with Poor Connectivity

4 Ways to Sync Files Across Offices with Poor Connectivity  Many times remote offices have poor connectivity making it a nightmare to sync between locations. Currently, your business could either use VPN to allow employees across offices to access files at one location or everything can be stored in the cloud, enabling employees to access files directly from the cloud. VPN: With VPN, all files and critical hardware are in one location which allows the users to access files from one common file structure.  However, file access can be slow due to the speed of the local network. Files have to come through the LAN at HQ and then to the user’s location. Users also become part of the HQ network rather than the local office network which impedes the functionality of other network resources such as printers. The worst part is that it’s extremely painful to keep logging into and out of VPN just to grab a file. NAS Drives with Sync Software: NAS drives with sync software such as SugarSync and Rsync could be used but you would then be replicating data across both offices, creating massive amounts of duplicate data at each location. Also, the requirement to maintain critical hardware at each location becomes a concern. For example, what happens if one of the drives at a remote location fails? How easy is it to get it up and running again? NAS Drives at each location, however, do provide fast access to files since they are located on your LAN and usually provide a mapped letter drive giving users easy access to the files. Cloud Storage: Cloud storage is perfect for keeping things in sync across locations, unless these locations have poor connectivity as working from the cloud can be a challenge due to speed and latency issues. Providers such as Box, Dropbox and OneDrive do allow a cache on each user’s computer but this causes other problems such as not having enough room on your laptop to sync the entire file store. Cache and Sync: With Morro Data’s Cache & Sync you can have the best of both, Cloud Storage and NAS Drives. The CacheDrive acts like a local NAS to provide fast read/write access to desktop machines via a network drive at all offices (however, it’s actually just acting as a front to Cloud Storage). You no longer need to worry about poor connectivity as the CacheDrive takes care of getting the files to the cloud, optimizing for speed, and can handle a connection dropping, re-starting right where it left off without missing a beat. Morro Data allows you to bring your own cloud storage provider including Backblaze B2, Amazon S3, Dropbox or OneDrive, making setup easy across offices. Management of the CacheDrives is also quite simple since they can be maintained from one central location using the web-based Morro Control Manager. Cache and Sync is an affordable way (starting at $499 one-time + $39 monthly access fee) to get your offices acting as if they are on the same LAN. Like to learn more about how you can use Morro Data to transfer large files to others? Try a live demo or a free trial.

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May 17 2017

Send Large Files Faster (Affordably)

Send Large Files Faster (Affordably) Do you send large files (100MB to 50GB) to customers regularly? There are lots of companies that solve for this problem, but they mainly approach this issue in one of two ways. Companies such as WeTransfer, Dropseed, FileMail etc. focus on browser-based products which specialize in sending files of up to 20GB. But, the issue with this solution is that your browser needs to be open and your computer on. This is alright for smaller files or one-time jobs but imagine having to do a 10GB transfer over your browser – that will take hours! The other solution has been to focus on speed and building a combination of software for large files and smaller browser-based files. Companies such as Aspera, FileCatalyst, and Signiant dominate this market. These services focus on technology that changes standard file transfer protocols to help you get the file to the destination faster. The issue? They all cost a ton. Need to transfer a TB? It might cost you more than $500. That’s a lot of dough! What if you want the ease of use of great software but have a lower budget? Morro Data is perfect for file transfers. To transfer a file simply drag and drop the file into a mounted folder and then you’re done. In under 2 minutes, you can place a 10GB file onto the CacheDrive and then walk away, letting the CacheDrive take care of the transfer.  Best of all we are 75% cheaper than companies like Aspera, File Catalyst and Signiant. Although we are not focused on speed, we still achieve about 90% of your internet connection’s speed, ensuring your files get to their destination super fast. Would you like to learn more about how you can use Morro Data to transfer large files to others? Try a live demo or a free trial.

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February 24 2017

Cache is King: Cached Cloud Storage is Faster, Smarter and Global

In the real world, the saying goes “Cash is King”, and in the world of computing Cache is no different, whether it’s the cache in your processor, the cache in the RAM on your laptop, or the cache in your browser. The definition of cache in computing is a hardware or software component that stores data so future requests for that data can be served faster. Morro Data is introducing Cached Cloud Storage for the SMB, where files are stored in the Morro cloud, cached in the Morro CacheDrive (gateway), and synced globally. Cloud Storage has transformed how we all work and conduct business, but being completely in the cloud has its downfalls (Dropbox, Box.net, etc.) such as slow file access speed, long file upload times, lack of user-level security, high per-user fees, and limitations on file sizes and storage. Cached Cloud Storage provides the power of the cloud with the performance of network-attached storage. It’s truly the best of both worlds. How does Cached Cloud storage work? It’s Fast With the Morro CacheDrive, users can access files in the cloud with the same speed as if they were on their own local network, resulting in almost 100x faster file access speeds compared to normal cloud storage. It’s Infinite See your entire cloud storage (even if it’s 25 TB) with just one CacheDrive. A user’s files are visible through the file explorer whether in the local cache or cloud. It’s Smarter The Morro CacheDrive intelligently downloads files only once and only when accessed. Once in the local cache, files are shared by all users, saving on download traffic and costly bandwidth. It’s Global Sharing, syncing, and transporting files between offices becomes seamless with the “cloud-first” Morro Global File System. Find out more about Why Cached Cloud Storage is right for your SMB here: http://www.morrodata.com/why-morro

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February 05 2017

The New Cloud Storage for SMB

Cloud Storage For Small Business Whether you need access to files anywhere/anytime, a simple way to share files with clients and co-workers, or a reliable data backup solution, using cloud storage for your small business is a must. However, finding a cloud storage provider that suits your needs can be hard. Cloud Storage companies are mainly categorized into three segments: 1. Cloud Backup (Carbonite, CrashPlan, etc.) 2. Sync and Share (Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, etc.) 3. Backup and Sync (LiveDrive, SugarSync, etc.) These companies offer many great features such as syncing files with others, file security, accessing files from anywhere/any device, and continuous backup and disaster recovery. But, these features still do not meet all of a user’s requirements. Slow file access speed, long file upload times, user-level security, high per user fees, and limitation of file sizes and storage can deter a small business from onboarding a cloud storage provider. A fourth type of Cloud Storage has been introduced, Cached Cloud Storage which allows you to access your entire cloud storage on the local network. Introduced by MorroData, the CacheDrive and its xCache technology revolutionize how cloud storage works. With Cached Cloud Storage, you get all the benefits of the cloud along with local performance, giving you the best of both worlds. With Cached Cloud Storage you can: Increase file access speed by 100x compared to typical cloud storage. Reduce file upload time from your machine to seconds. Simply store and move on. Increase your internet performance – Since files sync once to the CacheDrive and then internally on your LAN to users, your internet speeds will not be sluggish during file uploads/downloads. Eliminate per user fees – Pay per device (starting at just $39 per device) with each device capable of supporting 20-50 users. MorroData is founded by the expert team behind popular SMB NAS storage solution ReadyNas (acquired by Netgear) and led by founder/CEO Paul Tien.

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