Modern Solutions for Remote File Storage

The cloud storage gateway has emerged as a solution that offers seamless and secure data integration between remote locations and cloud object storage.

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Aron Brand is CTO of CTERA Networks.

Modernizing file services is a journey that companies must tackle as their local and unstructured data continues to grow at exponential rates. When enterprises examine the solutions available to modernize and secure their file services, and take into consideration their remote and branch office needs, the IT department can find several options to consider. The traditional approach, in which each branch office effectively operates within its own silo and autonomously manages and store files on general purpose file servers or network attached storage (NAS) devices, is expensive and provides a fragmented and isolated level of service.

Moreover, traditional approaches to file services aren’t up to par in today’s working environment. Enterprises have gone global and employees have gone mobile. Files are continuously created, modified, and shared by users who do not just sit in offices anymore. 

Scale-out NAS devices still have a place in this new world, serving as centralized repositories for storage, backup, and archiving of unstructured data. But compared to cloud storage offerings, NAS is expensive, not only in terms of GBs or TBs stored but also considering that replicating files to an off-site NAS forces companies to pay for two storage appliances. As well, the WAN performance between the two NAS devices may not be optimal, resulting in data recovery times that can be measured in days.

So, where does all this leave today’s enterprise organization that wants to take advantage of cloud storage but has concerns over the performance and/or privacy of their data? The cloud storage gateway has emerged as a solution that offers seamless and secure data integration between remote locations and cloud object storage. These gateways are becoming the superior choice for several reasons.

  • Infinite storage  Cloud storage gateways provide an unlimited amount of elastic, cloud storage space, requiring no service to provide additional capacity. A caching gateway can work for years unattended, without requiring any maintenance. This is especially important in reducing “truck rolls” to the branch offices.
  • A caching gateway provides file services with a nimble local storage tier as a cache for remote storage  Unstructured data exists in the cloud storage gateway and at a far more economical price point than with other options. Data costs typically 80 to 90 percent when managed with a caching gateway rather than in an enterprise NAS. Object storage can live in a public cloud or in a local datacenter. A caching gateway provides seamless access to the contents of the object storage system with file sharing protocols, enabling employees and applications to continue to securely access the network, as if it is local. 
  • Caching gateways have other advantages, too  For one, they work continuously. If a gateway comes offline, the installation of a new restores corporate data almost instantaneously. The caching gateway works continuously, in the background. While users access files, they are accessed as needed, from object storage. Gateways are also a great choice for disaster recovery, instantly providing a clear path to what might appear to be lost information, as they eliminate the need for back up. The caching gateway is a door to the object storage service already replicated across sites.
  • A single global file system. Another clear advantage is the ability the gateway provides to connect multiple caching gateways to object storage service, providing a single global file system that is accessible from many disparate locations at speeds that make the data appear as if it was local. It does this with end-to-end data encryption, key management and authentication.

Cloud storage gateways enable an enterprise can enjoy access to all of its files, from any location, with no latency. Users can move between the files and collaborate with people at any other location, making work for an organization with many branch offices efficient and seamless. And all the while, their files are never exposed to a third-party and are fully encrypted as they move from location to location.

Opinions expressed in the article above do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Data Center Knowledge and Informa.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating.

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