Few expenses weigh more heavily than lost productivity. Yet, many global organizations regularly lose time to dated NAS file systems that consistently slow workflows down.
The 30-year old file network tech you’re likely using is causing what you could consider “micro downtime”. You’ve probably accepted it as a normal part of doing business, ever since you outgrew just one location.
However, there’s a hard cost associated with every unproductive minute. Over the course of a year, those minutes add up to a significant amount of pain, in two areas.
- The first results in a drag to your business as normal business activities take longer than they should. That means you’re getting to market, responding to changes or servicing customers slower than you could be.
- The second is less immediately visible, but far more impactful. We’ll call it the cost of lost opportunity.
According to Deloitte, businesses with a collaborative strategy are twice as likely to outgrow their competitors, and more likely to improve their profit. In essence, that’s because people work better, and faster together.
Collaboration allows businesses to tap into collective knowledge and skills to create, innovate, and produce value on a continuous basis, in a way that simply isn’t possible when people work in silos.
For organizations spanning more than one location, effective collaboration is either facilitated by technology that allows real-time visibility of data, or hindered by clumsy, slow file or data sharing.
Businesses that cannot leverage their talent pool to its fullest extent lose far more than productive time. They lose the ability to innovate at a speed that would see them break away from competitors and secure their future.
While multiple factors, from company culture to team structure, contribute to an organization’s ability to leverage collaboration, there’s no doubt that file system technology plays a key role.
Leaving your slow, designed-for-a-single-site NAS file systems un-addressed makes your teams vulnerable to five notable, productivity-killing issues:
- Slow file browsing
- Sluggish file open speeds
- Delayed file change updates
- Conflicted file versions
- Redundant backup and disaster recovery workflows
Your performance doesn’t have to suffer a “death by a thousand cuts” — but you’ll need the right tool to make the change.
What makes a global file system?
First, let’s go back to basics. Your entire network’s file system can be deconstructed around three key pieces. Depending on how these are set up, you set the groundwork to define the speed of your file experience.
Real-time enterprise hybrid cloud global file systems live on:
- Inexpensive, high-capacity HDD cloud storage — to retain lots of actual files and all the info they contain.
- Offloading the low-volume metadata — for the “file browsing” process — to smaller, agile SSD local storage at each work branch across the globe.
- Local flexible caching of files — with a focus on frequent-use and newly created files — on flash media at each branch.
With worksite devices and central storage to break up the file system, you’re alleviating the key chokepoints that bind your production speeds.
On the other hand, NAS file systems often burden each site with the full workload. Let’s unpack how this binds your legacy file system in expensive, time-draining ways.
For starters, simply browsing files on your existing solution can run dense with latency. If each of your organization’s branches juggles its own silo of work documents, you’re tasked with a two-part loop:
- Finding and drilling down into the site directory your file lives in.
- Waiting at each directory level to receive directory info — i.e. the metadata.
If your entire team is at one site in Frankfurt, these metadata requests don’t have to travel far. Increase the distance each request has to travel — like from Frankfurt to Dallas — and you’ve got slow file browsing times.
The real-time solution: Store and globally sync your browsing data locally per-site.
Globally synced metadata gives each site an identical copy of the master browsing data. In a hybrid cloud global file system, centralized cloud storage houses all your files. Local sites hold their own devices to drive the file browsing workload.
Instead of waiting for each branch’s file storage to drip-feed its unique directory, use a copy at each branch to index the master cloud storage locally. As a result, you’ll keep your browsing loops short and speedy.
Opening a file should never take long enough to cue a coffee break. However, this is exactly what you get when you stretch a local file system network across distributed work sites.
To put it simply: you’re once again dealing with latency. The same data delays that throttle your browsing also affect the time taken for opening a file.
The real-time solution: Cache each site’s “hot” data on local filers that live at each site.
Every team’s got files they use more often than others. Intelligent caching ensures any data that gets frequently touched will be ready for rapid access as needed. As a result, your file open request stays local — saving hours of unnecessary “coffee breaks” a month.
File changes are also a culprit in workflow delays. After all, saving every bit of a file’s data across the globe is a bandwidth-heavy demand.
You might say your files aren’t massive spreadsheets or image-heavy presentations. However, your team’s collective file changes pack other data that can easily congest even high bandwidth networks. Both your site and your bandwidth may be bogged with other outgoing and incoming syncs.
The real-time solution: Sync only the file data that’s actually changed.
Alongside handling metadata and caching, local filers can vet data blocks for changes before sending them. Your downsized file transfers set up lightweight, cloud-bound file updates that don’t clog your network.
Naturally, your decongested networks open the cloud and each branch to instant, simultaneous updates — making these delays history.
File locking is the key to avoiding duplicate file versions that lead to lost productivity and expensive file merging.
Only real-time allows file locking to work effectively, because it needs to enforce and award the file lock before the file is opened. When it comes to the byte range locking that’s supported by many modern applications, only real-time is fast enough to avoid user collisions.
When working across sites, latency makes real time file locking virtually impossible for most file systems.
As a result, an employee in Boston won’t receive a lock until some point after opening a file. This latency leaves another employee in San Diego able to open, edit, and accidentally compromise the file before the lock is awarded.
The real-time solution: Distribute the file locks between local filers per site, so locking can behave locally, while being globally effective.
None of your staff want to deal with reconciling their team’s tracks just to work on a document. Meanwhile, some teams may need to work together on files at the same time.
Globally distributed file locking gives each site the ability to request the lock directly from the site currently holding it, in real-time – immediately locking out simultaneous users. For your teams that need to work with different parts of a CAD or CAM file together, byte-range locking restricts only the in-use file portions.
Many teams also accept the sluggish redundancy of their backup and disaster recovery processes. These workflows have long been the status quo that makes repetitive file duplication feel normal.
Of course, your organization’s file system should not be difficult to upkeep. But juggling data between production and multiple backup stores is your only protection in your current system.
The real-time solution: Capture file data in a trail of retrievable snapshots to unite your backups, archives, and disaster recovery into your production workflow.
To escape the burden of data management, your processes have to come together as one. Rather than destructively overwrite data blocks with edits, consider a file system that can retain older data blocks.
These can be used along with snapshots to instantly revert to any point-in-time — whether after small accidental changes or even full ransomware attacks.
Tap into with Hybrid Cloud
Ultimately, the value of real-time comes down to how much time you’re losing with your current systems.
By now you know that your legacy file system can leave you with slow, redundant workflows. As a result, the long-term costs of your team’s lost time can outweigh your shift to a modern solution.
If you believe these risks aren’t worth the struggle, a hybrid cloud global file system might be the exact fix you’re looking for.