The Case for a Next Generation of NAS

The Case for a Next Generation of NAS: The Flaws with Legacy Storage Architectures

Today’s enterprises have an unrelenting behemoth to face: data growth. From a measly two ZB in 2010 to a whopping 59 ZB in 2020, the globe is expected to collectively juggle 149 ZB of data in just the next four years.

The primary culprit? Unstructured data. 90% of our worldwide data growth is all the emails, images, videos, and other data that is especially challenging to organize and maintain. As the world’s recent shift into remote work becomes a permanent option for many, this alone will undoubtedly accelerate data growth even further.

Taking the bulk of this load, organizations are quickly finding their existing storage systems cumbersome at best. Traditional network-attached storage (NAS) is plagued by insufficient workflows and performance, plus security risks, and ultimately costs to an organization’s efficiency, flexibility, and scalability.

Across hundreds of enterprise sites, slow, wasteful workflows are only getting slower — while costs grow exponentially larger.

With 70% of organizations recognizing the piercing burden of storage designed for an older era, the demand for change is here. Inefficiency needs an agile solution.

 Intelligent hybrid cloud NAS solutions aim to mend the performance gap left by legacy NAS systems.  Let’s begin to explore some key areas any modern storage solution should be keen to address.

Panzura migrates unstructured data to the cloud
Wide (data) load coming through

Slow and Fragmented Workflows

Despite the value of its durability, local network storage often misses the mark in bridging modern workflows across an enterprise’s abundance of locations.

Among the main areas of focus, legacy NAS systems underperform with:

  1. Ease of access
  2. Collaborative file sharing

First, networked access to work files is only effective if employees can quickly access their files when they need them, every time they need them.

Second, employees must have confidence that each file they see is the current — and only — version available. 

Global File Systems are designed into a network’s architecture to enable fast recall of files — at least on paper. Compounded with network latency, the response on these systems introduces tedious gaps in work time.

Panzura busts latency
The dreaded "L" word

Delays in file sharing access disrupt collaborative workflows as well as individual ones. Along with delays, employees may end up editing files that are already being edited by another employee. These legacy NAS systems may have virtually no backend tech managing file edits, leaving duplicate files to run rampant.

As a result, each site is sharing with the wider enterprise their own mess of siloed, redundant data. Ultimately, the spread of mismanaged data amounts to a stockpile of poorly-maintained clutter.

Employees inevitably cut into their valuable work time to navigate, consolidate, and tolerate these flaws.

Intelligent storage solutions know that dynamic caching based on use patterns is critical to ease of access. Additionally, next-gen successors are aware that smarter file sync alongside smarter file locking and focuses on keeping the storage space tidy and duplicate-free.

Poor Visibility and Control

If there’s one major takeaway from decades of cybersecurity incidents, complexity equals vulnerability. Tidy storage is not only easier to use, but can be seen clearly and easily set up to limit who accesses it. As a tandem benefit, well-kept data is much easier to pull for regulatory compliance.

Unfortunately, legacy NAS architecture does not hold up well in these key areas:

  1. Access control
  2. Data visibility

The rapid growth — and value — of data has cemented the persistent threat of storage breaches for enterprises worldwide. With legacy NAS models increasing the volume of data to manage via unintended duplicates, it’s no wonder that company data is difficult to control.

Subpar visibility can be traced to the lack of an auto-maintained, central control point. More modern solutions see the shortcomings of legacy NAS tech that bar enterprises from consolidating unique data at every site. 

Replace islands of storage data - Panzura
Legacy NAS casts away your data on storage islands

 Where old models are missing effective cross-site data syncing, intelligent solutions aim to keep data sync-ready by keeping it clean from the start.

When data is clean, visible, and centralized, keeping it secure is significantly easier. Intelligent storage takes things further with fine-tuned access permissions on files. Beyond keeping stray hands off your data, managed data is primed for speedy responses to audit requests.

The True Cost of Legacy NAS Systems

Enterprises are ultimately finding their bottom line to be heavier annually as their legacy NAS ball-and-chain drags behind. The expenses continue to add up as these areas fall short:

  1. Data volume
  2. Vulnerability to ransomware
  3. Storage upkeep
  4. Deployment

Digital life and work have made it abundantly clear that data growth is here to stay. However, it can be optimized to be lighter on network-attached storage systems.

Traditional NAS lacks this savvy framework, leaving uncompressed files to bloat storage. Furthermore, the same duplicate files from earlier can fill networks with unneeded high-bandwidth traffic. 

By compressing and “deduping” all data, intelligent NAS solutions reduce costs for the whole enterprise in ways legacy systems can’t.

With no reliable way to enforce global de-duplication, legacy NAS leaves teams with only their budget to fight productivity bottlenecks. More storage hardware, more bandwidth… it all means there’s more to maintain.

Finally, implementing expansions can be disruptive in itself. These hardware-defined legacy systems lack the ability to move into a less disruptive agile mode of operations for life cycle refreshes. Then you might consider that even a single device failure could mean mission-critical data loss in a fragmented data landscape. As a result, yesterday’s NAS in today’s enterprise will continue to struggle as the workload grows.

What’s Next for Enterprise NAS?

Truly intelligent, software-defined NAS solutions make use of cluster-based filers to counter these deployment and upkeep issues. By remaining modular, next-gen solutions can be adapted to an enterprise’s actual use — without any additional NAS device purchases. This structure also brings inherent durability, as all other devices can pick up the slack in case of a single device failure.

In conclusion, legacy NAS was not designed for this era of massive global data growth. Expanding storage to compensate is not only difficult and costly, but fails to solve the true issue: the modern enterprise needs clean data management.

Where legacy solutions fall below expectations, a true global file system can exceed them.

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