The Challenges & Solutions of Distributed File Storage & Secure File Sharing

by Andrew Mullen on June 21, 2016

As long as a business exists solely on a single campus, storage and file sharing really aren't a big deal. But as the enterprise sprawls across regions, nations, and continents, issues of latency, security, managing coherence and consistency of files and data, and related issues begin to plague the distributed storage solution. It becomes harder to provide a high level of performance for users, while maintaining consistency and assuring security of the data.

Enter: Talon Storage's FAST. This secure file sharing solution powers global access to data and files, while eliminating bottlenecks that slow the process down and assuring both a high level of performance and enterprise-class data security. Here are the challenges of distributed file storage, and how your business can overcome each obstacle with data centralization and the right secure file sharing tool.

Dealing With Issues of Latency

Some of the issues that cause latency are easily resolved, but others aren't. For instance, there is little you can do about how far branch offices are from the centralized data store without a good file sharing solution.

There are several potential causes of latency. While it's irrelevant to the user which problem is slowing down their work, it is a constant source of grief for the systems and network administrators. Latency can be caused by:

• Slow CPU speed
• The distance between the data store and the user
• The number of trips it takes to fulfill a user's request for data
• Queuing for bandwidth

Some of these problems can be fixed by simply investing in more CPU or bandwidth. But others, like the distance between the data and the user, aren't so easy to resolve. Talon Storage FAST eliminates these uncontrollable latency issues by allowing the storage overlay layer to quickly retrieve the data by foreseeing how many requests it would take to retrieve a large file. Instead of retrieving it through hundreds, potentially thousands, of requests, CloudFAST instead reads the data in larger chunks, and creates incremental updates as it is saved over the WAN. This means that an appliance can read a file in a couple of seconds that might take 25 minutes or longer in the traditional distributed file storage situation.

Local File Caching

With FAST, larger files can be cached locally for higher performance as well as easier document version management.

FAST further reduces latency and performance problems by allowing objects (files and folders) to be cached on the local server appliance. That way, users do not have to wait for the files to be accessed all the way back at the data center each time access is needed. This allows for localized permissions checks and super fast delivery of the file, even when the user is not currently connected to the network.

Managing Coherence & Consistency

Another issue enterprises face is the ability to establish and maintain coherence and consistency among the files created and accessed by various branches. The Talon FAST solution creates multi-site, multi-user, multi-session consistency and coherence by establishing long-term leases on the files. It works like this: when a user requests a file from the branch office, a lease is set up between CloudFAST and the core appliance. This results in a master lock between CloudFAST and the data center file server, and establishes one (or more) locks between the clients and the CloudFAST cache.

To learn more about how Talon's solutions can solve the challenges enterprises face with distributed file storage and secure file sharing, watch this Talon FAST video.

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