Nasuni and the Difficulty of Differentiating

Recently I questioned whether businesses would really be prepared to purchase cloud storage solutions from consumer-focused vendors. Wanting to jump into the fray, business cloud storage vendor Nasuni contacted me for a chat. So how does yet another entrant into the marketplace differentiate itself, and is there any chance of building a successful business in a saturated market such as this one?

Nasuni Filer is an NAS-like virtual file server that allows businesses to store files in a variety of clouds from Amazon, Iron Mountain, Nirvanix and Rackspace. The way in which Nasuni is trying to rise up above the other players is by creating a very local-feeling, NAS-like experience and ticking off the security boxes from the get-go. To this end, Nasuni caches all files locally to ensure performance is the same as with purely local storage, and all files are stored fully encrypted in the cloud with disaster recovery built into the core product.

Some might see this as a best-of-both-worlds solution. Nasuni certainly hopes so. In a somewhat confusing move that sees Nasuni try to keep both traditional IT and cloud proponents happy, however, the company is promising potential customers that they can keep their existing IT infrastructure and work within familiar environments, all while leveraging the efficiencies that the cloud brings.

Nasuni charges at a monthly-plus-data rate. There’s an application access fee of $300 and data charges that vary across providers. Nasuni has simplified data charges by including transfer costs within the storage price, but, in what may be a deal breaker for companies with regularly changing file storage, Nasuni keeps data snapshots in the clouds even when the original data is deleted. For some companies, this may result in unacceptably high storage charges.

Nasuni has created a nice product, but it’s a product conflicted by trying to keep both the traditionalists and the progressives happy. That’s a difficult strategy to take, and one which may limit their success.

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Ben Kepes is an independent consultant and contributing writer for GigaOM. Please see his disclosure statement in his bio.

Image source: Flickr user Michael Dornbierer

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