Israeli file management specialist Ctera has no plans to stop offering access to cloud storage as if it were a local area network (NAS) storage. Expand your offer with application programming interfaces (API) to allow third-party tools to search and handle data, in use cases that range from regulatory audits to decision-making processing through antivirus disinfection.
“In this way, we are becoming a provider of cloud services focused on business data processing,” said Ctera CEO Liran Eschel in an argument reminiscent of NetApp, the heavyweight provider of networked storage that is similarly positioned in cloud storage.
All this came in an interview with the sister site of Computer Weekly LeMagITas part of the recent IT Press Tour to Israel.
Ctera emphasized the need to share documents internationally. His proposal puts cloud gateways on every corporate site and presents them as a NAS with its content in a single online storage pool.
Ctera’s gateway caches hot data in a quick access location and arranges colder data for cheaper storage of objects in the cloud, all managed via a global file system.
There are two benefits to this. The key is that any branch location can access the latest versions of documents modified elsewhere, and contributors and applications can access these documents via SMB, which is well known while in “traditional” cloud storage access to storage facilities is usually mandatory.
Ctera is not the only one to offer such functionality, as Nasuni, Panzura and Peer play a very similar space.
Third-party vendors are needed for high-level functionality
The move from simple cloud storage to more sophisticated services requires effort that Ctera alone cannot provide. Around the API developed by Ctera, the intended functionality will be provided by third parties.
“As far as we’re concerned, we provide infrastructure functionality such as archiving, replication, and fixed hosting,” said Aaron Brands, Ctera’s technical director. “But also the Ctera Insight console, which allows you to visualize file activity and focus on activities that deviate from normal operation.”
An example of a partnership with a third party is Varonis, the security and data analysis provider that Ctera contacted in 2021.
“Varonis has functionality that can analyze data and identify sensitive content,” Brands said. “In practice, you should already be a Varonis customer. From now on, all you have to do is provide your Varonis Ctera account information and it will find the S3 repository where your data is stored and check it.
Technically, Ctera’s real innovation is based on providing metadata and log files from the data it stores and opening them for processing by third parties.
From the customer’s point of view, the offer does not really change. The Ctera NAS gateway is still deployed as a virtual machine, and the provider recommends that customers dedicate a hyper-convergent node to it to provide local cache. In all cases presented by Ctera, its customers have used Cisco Hyperflex hyper-converged nodes.
According to the Brands API, Ctera can be programmatically written in languages and protocols that include Python, Ansible, REST, S3, ICAP and WebDAV.