Using Nasuni Cloud Storage with Mac Clients
Sharing the experience of moving unstructured file storage data to Nasuni cloud storage gateway solution for a Creative/Media organisation with a high percentage of Apple Mac clients.
The key aims of the implementation were:
- Meet data growth demands
- Move away from using the Apple Filing Protocol (AFP)
- Replace on-premise storage solutions
- Implement a site agnostic storage solution
- Provide immutable versioning
What is Cloud Storage Gateway (CSG)?
Cloud storage gateways provide an easy onramp to the public cloud. Local edge appliances cache actively used files from the cloud, presenting shares via SMB enabling high-speed access to actively used files. Files are evicted from the edge appliance as they age leaving them on the cloud store, but are restored to the edge appliance when accessed.
- Storage gateways enable synchronization of data between one or more sites, which requires that write access to be arbitrated to prevent overwrites by users. As such, global file locking is often offered as a means of allowing only a single user capable of writing to one file at a time.
- Storage gateways support encryption, compression, deduplication, and network optimization.
- LAN based performance – Storage gateways provide edge caching of cloud data, which mitigates performance issues accessing directly from the cloud.
The Implementation Outcome
The implementation was successful, which was due to intensive planning and testing. Overall, the solution met its objectives. It works seamlessly with Windows clients. It works well enough with Macs assuming the correct settings are applied, but there’s scope for improvement.
On the infrastructure side, it enables flexibility and has excellent business continuity planning (BCP) and disaster recovery options.
Implementation factors that were considered and addressed before migrating data:
- A tidy up of permissions so they were flat per share
- Shares added to a DFS namespace to provide seamless share migration cutovers
- Enabling access-based enumeration on DFS so users only see the shares they have access to use.
- DFS has never been reliable on Mac devices, so planned for the Apple Macs to connect directly to edge appliances
- Fixed broken links within Microsoft Excel files using a dedicated tool
- Found an alternative approach to handle file metadata searches.
Apple Mac and SMB File Sharing
See our previous post on Mac and SMB File Sharing, written about factors and settings when using SMB shares with Macs.
Apple Mac Icon Previews on CSG Files Shares
Displaying macOS Icon Previews for files on SMB shares may not always display or can be slow to display.
When Icon Previews are enabled for files in folders on the file server, the macOS Finder reads all files within folders to generate icon previews. This occurs every time folders are opened which results in unnecessary network traffic. If folders contain lots of files, or the containing files are very large, slowdowns may occur. This can cause unnecessary downloading of files from the cloud that are not held in the local cache.
This was mitigated by provisioning suitably sized cache disks to cope with unnecessary caching generated from icon previews. Also, ensuring that the Internet connection was adequately sized. Additionally, users were educated on problems associated with Icon Previews.
Apple Mac Metadata Searching on CSG File Shares
The lack of search indexing to speed up file metadata searches can break workflows. This is the ‘Apple Spotlight’ capability to perform searches on network shares, available in a server-based solution like Acronis File Connect.
One option to mitigate this issue was using the EasyFind application. EasyFind doesn’t require Indexing for metadata search results and doesn’t invoke cloud reads when performing metadata searches. However, it doesn’t perform adequately where there are millions of files in shares. Hence, an alternative option is still being investigated looking at Analytics connector integrations with solutions like NeoFinder, and others.
PST Files on CSG File Shares
PST files on network shares are not supported due to constant read and write activity when connected to Outlook. They will cause the local cache appliance to attempt to constantly resync the entire PST file to the cloud. Hence, PST files were migrated to a dedicated email archiving solutions.