The Evolution of Distributed File Storage
by Jaap van Duijvenbode on September 30, 2015
Today, most data is stored in distributed file systems, even more so than distributed databases. Distributed file systems are responsible for many of our online and media experiences, and large organizations use them extensively for collaboration and file sharing. It only makes sense considering the enormous quantities of data used by businesses, and the rate at which new data is being produced.
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Distributed data and distributed workforces make fast, secure solutions essential.
It certainly wasn't always this way, however. Getting enterprise data to end users has evolved considerably, particularly as organizations scale up their data holdings. Old solutions simply aren't economical or workable, but distributed file systems make sense for today's distributed workforce and distributed business environment. Here's how distributed file storage became a dominant force in enterprise data.
The Old Way: Local Servers at Different Locations
At first glance, having local servers at different locations makes sense, because each has its information at hand, secured as they see fit. The problem with this approach to collaboration and file sharing is that it doesn't scale well. The administrative burden that goes along with scaling up local servers quickly becomes impractical, and the financial cost of doing so is high as well. If data must be shared say, between the London office and the Barcelona office, someone will have to replicate a data set and determine the best way to transmit it. Furthermore, if one data set is altered, then not everyone is working with the same data. While redundancy of data sets is good, it should be coordinated so everyone works from the same set.
The Single Set of Data to the Distributed Workforce
With today's distributed workforce, the solution that makes sense for file sharing and collaboration is coordinated, distributed file storage. Files may be physically distributed across a network, but to the end-users, they appear as if they all come from the same place. This means end-users don't have to specify the physical location of files in order to access them. It saves time, because end-users don't have to go to multiple network locations to obtain the data they need, and it helps ensure better data integrity. With distributed file storage, everyone is always working with the same, latest version of the data - a single "truth source" that makes collaboration more effective and better coordinated.
Dealing With Shadow IT
An outstanding distributed file storage system can help organizations deal with the problems of "shadow IT." Shadow IT is what happens when end-users, dissatisfied with their organization's approach to data storage and sharing, choose to use their own solutions, like Dropbox. Organizations that need control over data quality and security (and who doesn't?) want to avoid shadow IT, and the most effective way to do that is with file sharing and collaboration that does what end-users need: maintains data in its most current state securely, while allowing quick and easy access to authorized users. Organizations that discover shadow IT solutions should have a hard look at their data sharing solutions.
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Shadow IT is one way end-users cope with their organizations' inadequate file sharing solutions.
Data Centralization Plus Integration With the Cloud
Being able to scale effectively, while preserving fast access and maintaining data integrity and security requires centralizing data, consolidating it, and using cloud storage. With a single, always updated "truth source" that uses your existing on-premises, hybrid cloud, or full cloud infrastructure, file sharing and collaboration are seamless and transparent. Furthermore, with such a solution, IT processes in your distributed branch offices are simplified. For example, unlike in the days when each location had its own servers, branch office backups are no longer needed. All branch office data is consolidated in the cloud, where all of your backups, restores, and snapshots are managed as well.
WAN optimization, virtual desktop infrastructure, and storage replication can be made to work, but they have serious drawbacks in terms of performance and security. Talon CloudFAST™ solves these problems by combining Microsoft Windows Server, WAN optimization, and intelligent file caching, so collaboration and file sharing improve tremendously, without security threats.
If you require significant processing power and access to huge files, CloudFAST™ makes it easy to meet these requirements, even with a dispersed workforce. Intelligent file sharing eliminates the need to download and upload entire files whenever a minor change is made, because only relevant file differences are reflected in the central copy. And file locking technology ensures that data remains consistent, even if multiple end-users are working with it simultaneously. CloudFAST™ confers a measurable advantage in terms of competitive edge by making data secure, quickly accessible, and always up to date, wherever you need it.