When consolidating enterprise NAS or legacy stored unstructured data in the cloud, you don’t expect to lose features you've taken for granted. Take a critical look before signing up for a cloud-based NAS solution.
What Key Features Should You Look For?
- In a future of continuously explosive unstructured data growth, limitless adaptive capacity is essential, meaning the ability to protect and recover whatever you’re storing. Public clouds from your choice of providers should be usable as a central global store. The flexibility to offload some maintenance and upkeep from your own IT can also be invaluable.
- Instead of struggling with isolated, siloed directories, a global namespace exposes all your file system data as one consistent view for all users, even those who want mobile access. Regardless which site is browsing file directories, all sites should see the same, united directory.
- Broad and highly available support. Top solutions tend to provide near immediate tech support response times. From live agents to community forums and self-service knowledge bases, help is available around the clock, in multiple channels. Learn about Panzura Global Services.
Beyond these 3 requirements, there are likely to be discrepancies and lack of support for features you might have come to expect. Services to watch for:
Global File Locking
Does the vendor only allow one user at a time to access and edit files? If it has file locking ability, does it work in real time, without intervention?
For remote collaboration, file (and also byte-range) locking is critical to keeping productivity high and your files consistent across all locations in real time. That's a polite way of saying uncorrupted and under control. Without it, file versions splinter off from the master and render your file system an unruly mess without integrity. Worse, users overwrite each other and are left to retrace and somehow negotiate the right content.
Does the vendor offer cloud mirroring of files and directory metadata?
Without cloud mirroring (PDF), you might be vulnerable to storage failure. The goal of cloud use is uninterrupted access, yet some solutions can leave you exposed to cloud outages or even accidental cloud bucket deletions. (With Panzura, you can mirror all unstructured cloud data to a separate cloud and write to both at the same time as a fail-safe.)
Dedicated High Availability (HA)
Does the solution carry a high availability rating, and how much are you paying for it?
Uptime can make or break your organization’s productivity. If you’re not supported by a fully reliable solution, you’re looking at a costly risk that you might not be able to shake in today’s economic climate. With solutions like cloud mirroring (at no cost from Panzura), you can achieve resilient ratings like 13 9s — or 99.99999999999% durability.
Is the solution rated compliant with your required regulations?
Cloud storage may be compliant with some regulatory requirements; not all are equal. For instance, military-grade FIPS-140-2 certification takes a careful look at secure deletion and data protections. Few solutions meet the requirements, even if they meet the demands of HIPAA and other boards.
It’s wise to check these, and your many other compliance needs, before you make your final decision. Learn about Panzura encryption and compliance. (PDF)
Does the solution maintain strong performance, even when expanding to accommodate more data, locations, or users?
Speed and cost are tricky to balance against productivity. Naturally, some cloud solutions don’t do elasticity well. Integrating with a public cloud may help you stay agile, but introduce latency. Regardless of the number of locations and users, your solution should maintain local performance at global scale.
Does the solution provide a dashboard for dissecting and combing through your entire file network?
A clear vision into the wilds of your data scape is less useful without the tools to navigate it. Even if you know the value of search and auditing, some solutions omit these features. Seek the solution that fully enables your IT team to keep up with your data growth.
What Other Features Should You Watch For?
Features worth investigating:
File & user backup snapshots for point-in-time file restoration during recovery.
Dark site security support for shutting down inbound and outbound traffic to limit contagion.
Encryption providing no less than military-level AES 256 cryptography.
Immediate global data consistency so that every user, at every location, can see the most up-to-date version of every file — just as they can when working with an on-premises NAS. Achieving global data consistency requires real time distributed file locking as well as a peer-to-peer sync to keep all locations immediately up-to-date with no risk of file overwrites.
Global deduplication & compression to lighten the storage load by removing redundant data blocks before they're stored. Using lightweight metadata file pointers to record which data blocks comprise a file at any given time allows blocks that would otherwise have been duplicated to be stored once and used by multiple files.
Global file collaboration features to take global collaboration further — such as through distributed file locking and byte-range locking to keep master files splinter-free and without collisions, and through use of local caching to keep files quickly accessible.
Ultimately, only you can be the best advocate for your enterprise data management needs. Do your due diligence and find the solution that truly measures up to your expectations.
Originally published 20 Apr 2021, Updated 2 Jan 2024