During my time at Synergy Technical I’ve talked to quite a few organizations about migrating to the cloud in some way, share, or form. Whether we’re in a discussion about a total cloud migration meaning every operation and workload is cloud-based or we’re talking about a hybrid cloud migration in which some workloads migrate but a portion remains on premises. The same question is addressed. What do we do about file servers?
My typical response is to suggest the use of OneDrive and SharePoint. Both of these options work very, very well and make any file server obsolete. OneDrive is great for your on-premise files replacing the beloved home drive usually mapped at login. Your personal network drive with any letter assigned to it in your Windows file explorer. This was usually the name by which all the users knew the drive. “Mr. Helpdesk! My S drive is down!” Who doesn’t want to relive those halcyon days of keeping your files on “the server” and knowing that your IT team had your back if you deleted anything or corrupted your favorite database. Let’s not discuss your mp3 collection.
SharePoint does a great job moving your team network share to the cloud. It replaces the network drive for all team data with an application that allows sharing of data with the additional features of version tracking, simultaneous collaboration while editing documents, and user-initiated data recovery in the event of data loss. Also, consider you can share a document via a link instead of having to email documents back and forth filling your email box with five to ten different versions of the same spreadsheet that is already outdated. Like OneDrive, SharePoint is cloud-based meaning you no longer have to support a server to enable this collaboration. You also no longer have to protect the data which is no small benefit considering most organizations have terabytes of data on their file servers. Most of the data is old and rarely used but still considered useful for organizational memory as well as archival purposes. This data has value and being able to move it to the cloud removes a significant burden from local IT resources and support teams.
There is now a third option that offers a hybrid approach that the previously mentioned OneDrive and SharePoint lack. This is Azure File Sync. Azure File Sync replicates files from your on-premises Windows Server to an Azure File share. This hybrid approach allows frequently accessed and newly created data to reside on the Windows Server while moving the older and less accessed data to Azure storage. The benefits of this operation are that if you need to recover from the loss of a file server you can do this quickly and easily by connecting your newly built file server to the Azure File Sync storage thereby recreating the lost share instantly. You can also connect more than one file server to Azure File Sync allowing users in remote offices to use the same exact file share as users at the home office. Once the connection is created the file share appears just as it would anywhere else within your organization. Data tiering is automatic in that Azure File Sync will replicate less used data to the cloud seamlessly. Azure File Sync creates a way to address moving the workload of storing and protecting files and data into the cloud while preserving the way that your users and customers customarily work. All while lightening the workload for IT staff.
As always, if you have any questions about this technology or would just like more information feel free to contact me anyone at Synergy Technical.
Azure File Sync Overview