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Picture this: You walk into a candy shop and look into the display cabinet. You see a small colorful lollipop. You’ve had it before, so it’s familiar to you. But then you see some exotic-looking candy. It comes in many colors and flavors, and you get way more candy for the same price as the lollipop you’ve always chosen. But you’re scared to try it, so you buy the traditional lollipop instead. A few hours later, your sweet tooth returns, and you’re left wishing you’d gone with the other candy.

People usually stick with what they’re familiar with instead of taking the risk and trying something new. While the familiar may be an easy choice, it’s not always the best one. The same can be said regarding network-attached storage (NAS). Legacy NAS has helped companies manage their data and collaborate remotely for years. But as the amount of data continues to grow and technology advances, NAS is struggling to keep up. Companies that refuse to change are left wanting, perpetually struggling to get more out of their data storage and management solutions.

So, what exactly is NAS, and why has it played such a crucial role in data storage and management for so long? Good questions.

What is network-attached storage?

NAS is a storage device that’s connected to a network and enables the storage and retrieval of data from a centralized location. Data can be accessed by authorized network users and heterogeneous client devices. Each NAS uses a physical network connection, such as Ethernet, which gives every NAS a unique IP address. 

Companies needing more storage after implementing NAS can always add more, thanks to NAS’s flexibility and scalability. NAS is like having a private cloud in a company’s office that they have more control over. It’s simple to operate, relatively cost-effective, and easy to use.

NAS has played a significant role in the rise of remote work. As more and more employees opted to work remotely, the need arose for data storage solutions that enabled remote collaboration. NAS has done just that. Not only can employees collaborate on data at any time and place, but they can also communicate more efficiently with their customers. 

The type of NAS a company chooses depends on their needs. Companies can choose between enterprise, midmarket, or desktop NAS. The category of NAS a company chooses indicates their data storage and management needs and the number of users they expect to have access to the NAS. For example, large corporations will require Enterprise NAS due to their high number of employees. Companies with more users need a stronger connection; otherwise, the NAS loses all its efficiency.

The problem with traditional enterprise NAS

Traditional Enterprise NAS has enabled large companies to operate and collaborate on mass amounts of data, both on-premises and remotely. It’s helped with low-overhead staffing, deduplication, compression, encryption, and snapshots. And, as we’ve said, it can be a very cost-efficient and management-friendly data storage solution. But with all these benefits come a fair share of problems. 

First of all, Enterprise NAS has to be scalable. Companies must be able to move large amounts of data across vast distances. While traditional NAS has some scalability, it performs best when data is closer to the user. As the distance between the user and the data increases, the performance of NAS decreases. NAS is only truly effective if employees can access the data they need whenever they need it.

Additionally, Legacy NAS often struggles with poor workflows, subpar performance, and security risks, ultimately hurting a company’s efficiency, flexibility, and scalability. Workflows are disrupted when file sharing access is delayed. The delay in file sharing causes employees to mistrust data files, as they never know if the version they’re working with is the most up-to-date. If employees aren’t aware that a file has already been edited, they may modify it unnecessarily. This lack of backend file management results in a stockpile of unnecessary duplicate files. Navigating this lack of data consistency takes time away from other crucial company operations.

Duplicate files created by legacy NAS's lack of internal organization create a security risk, leaving data unattended, unprotected, and susceptible to security breaches. These files can still hold crucial information, so a leak of that data can be extremely damaging to a company.

Traditional Enterprise NAS aimed to fill the need for data management solutions. While Legacy NAS was initially a vital resource for companies, it is failing to continue to meet the data management and security needs held by most large companies today.

Panzura’s cloud-based data storage solution

Let’s face it — Legacy NAS is outdated. And on top of that, it doesn’t play nicely with cloud storage, which companies often rely on. Legacy NAS supports traditional backup and recovery solutions that call for excessive copies of data. But companies no longer need to make even a single extra copy of their data. 

Panzura’s hybrid cloud storage solution makes files immediately consistent and available across multiple sites, providing companies with enterprise-grade durability without excessive replication. Companies can choose a public, private, or dark cloud to store a single authoritative data source. This data source is deduplicated, compressed, and protected. All changes made at the edge automatically sync to the cloud store, with all site locations syncing simultaneously. This process ensures file consistency across all sites.

CloudFS aims to unify enterprise data without the extra cost. It’s only a third of the total cost of Legacy NAS. It also allows data and locations to scale as needed by using cloud storage as the data center without compromising productivity or workflows. CloudFS works seamlessly with whatever object store a company chooses and never requires the creation of copies. It coordinates where files are stored, what’s sent to the cloud, edit and access rights, local file caching, and data management. 

Part of what sets CloudFS apart from NAS is its ability to analyze the entire scope of a company’s unstructured data in real time, all while enabling global collaboration with no latency or corruption. Companies utilizing CloudFS can quickly eliminate duplicated data, locate missing files, and restore lost or corrupted files. 

When employees have immediate access to data anywhere, anytime, they can maximize productivity. CloudFS puts stored data where it needs to be, exactly when it needs to be there — so companies can optimize productivity and stand out from their competition.