Remote Should Not Be Removed: Extending Data Access Across the Enterprise
A global enterprise needs to function as a seamless organization, granting all end users fast access to files, whether they’re at headquarters or a three person branch on the other side of the world. This is not an easy task and it often becomes a major source of IT pain.
We recently interviewed several customers to gain a better understanding of the pain points associated with managing storage remotely and the best practices for overcoming them.
As we learned during the interviews, the technical challenges are often compounded by the fact that end users expect fast access to their data, no matter where they are. One customer has more than 30 offices around the globe. A few times a year, the company’s leaders convene at its North American headquarters. At one such meeting, an executive stood up and asked everyone to open the PowerPoint he had prepared. The file, he said, was in their F drive.
When the other executives searched their folders, however, there was no file. Each drive was actually mapped back to that individual’s branch office. The universal F drive was a myth. There was no common location where anyone could go to find the latest version of a file. The company was a chain of isolated islands of storage.
Today’s distributed enterprises struggle to grant all end users fast access to the same files. Often there is no master copy, so users may find out too late that they’ve made changes to outdated versions of files. Employees working out of remote offices are also handicapped by latency. They might have to wait minutes for a file that their colleagues in headquarters can bring up in a few seconds. As a result, they’re driven to go underground and share files via email, clogging the network.
After taking a closer look at the interview data, we identified the following best practices surrounding data access:
Global File Access
IT should search out off-the-shelf or otherwise proven systems that deliver equal access to files without hindering performance. Trying to cobble together homegrown solutions too often leads to headaches and finger pointing.
Gold Copies vs. Old Copies
End users should only be able to access the latest copy of a file. IT should implement a solution with built-in WAN acceleration and deduplication to reduce potential conflicts and avoid taxing the network.
Performance for End Users
Critical files must be stored local to the users, ideally in each branch office, so that all users can work at the same pace as employees in headquarters.
Underground File Sharing
Network Operations should keep a close eye on network performance and email systems. Root cause analysis can help network teams pinpoint the source of the problem, and the storage team can assist in the effort when the storage system is to blame.
In the past, remote was synonymous with slow, unprotected, and disconnected. This no longer needs to be the case. In our next post we’ll talk about managing remote storage from a centralized location, how to deal with unpredictable file growth, and security.