I’m often asked about the differences between Nasuni and enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) solutions such as Box and Dropbox. This is understandable, since Nasuni, Box and Dropbox deliver some of the same file storage and sharing capabilities. However, scalable NAS and global file system solutions such as Nasuni are designed for very different use cases than EFSS solutions such as Box and Dropbox.
Let’s look at what EFSS solutions are good at first. Then we’ll review 8 reasons distributed enterprises can’t do without scalable NAS solutions like Nasuni.
Where EFSS Shines
If your business has lots of mobile workers who need to access a limited number of small files such as standard Office documents, Box and Dropbox are good choices. Their sync clients, Web interfaces, and mobile apps are very user-friendly, and great at basic file sharing, synchronization of changes, and small team collaboration.
For example, when a few members of the Finance department are working on an Excel spreadsheet, or when a team of consultants is on the road and needs to take files with them, Dropbox and Box will do the job.
Where Cloud-Scale NAS Is Essential
The enterprise customers who are coming to us have different needs. Here are 8 reasons why you should choose a modern, cloud-scale NAS solution such as Nasuni over EFSS solutions such as Box and Dropbox.
1. Your Files Are Large
CAD, medical imaging videos, scans from architectural engineering projects, and Adobe Creative Cloud content are often so large that end users cannot effectively work on them with a file sync and share solution. The files may not fit on some users’ laptops, and the process of syncing these files between local computing devices and the Dropbox or Box cloud will consume too much bandwidth. Just imagine, if many users are sharing large files, how much bandwidth would be needed to sync them to every user’s local device every time any user makes a change.
2. Your Applications are Written to Expect Local File Shares
The critical business applications used by most enterprises often expect files to be stored on a local share. In fact, these apps are often designed to take advantage of the structure and semantics of standard file servers for their collaboration features. If the files are not on a share, attributes such as locking cannot be enforced and file conflicts may result.
3. Your Users Want Their Familiar Drives – and So Do Your Automation Scripts
We’re all creatures of habit. Once end users start using their ‘E:’ drive for one project, and their ‘F:’ drive for another, they don’t want to change. Many enterprise workflows and scripts are also built around specific directory structures and folders.
If you try to implement an EFSS solution such as Dropbox or Box, the files will live in different places. Users will have to learn a whole new system. Automation scripts and workflows will have to be rewritten. This will be a massive cost and disruption to the business.
4. You Need More Than Four Months of File History
The version history stored in Dropbox for Business has a four-month limit. For most enterprises, that’s not enough. Healthcare organizations and law firms need to store and protect data for years for compliance reasons. Construction firms need to preserve project files in case clients want to expand or revamp buildings far into the future. Advertising and PR firms need to be able to consult earlier client work.
If your files live in an EFSS solution, you will need to implement a separate backup system to retain versions for more than four months. This will add significant cost and complexity, while introducing another data silo that will make accessing your older files much harder.
5. You View Privacy and Security as Paramount
Enterprise file sync and share solutions encrypt file data, but many customers want to be the only ones who hold the encryption keys. In the past, Dropbox and Box held the encryption keys themselves, which meant customers had to trust them not to read their data.
Since then, Box has introduced key vaulting, a feature that safeguards encryption keys in separate hardware on their network. While Box no longer holds the key, the data still must travel to and from the vault over Box’s network, which means it could be monitored or intercepted en route. It’s a better approach, but still insufficient to pass the test of many enterprise IT security teams.
6. You Need to Know Where Your Data Lives
Global enterprises need to manage different data locality regulations in different countries. Offices in Germany, for example, must prove their data resides only within that country.
Enterprise file sync and share solutions try to achieve this through geofencing, which prevents data from traveling outside a certain range of IP addresses. However, this does not provide the level of granularity many global enterprises need.
7. You Need File Locking for Multi-Site Collaboration
An effective enterprise file sharing and collaboration solution needs to let users in different locations work efficiently on the same project data without editing conflicts. In Dropbox and Box, a user working on a file can apply a badge as a signal to colleagues to leave the file alone. But there’s no enforcement. Users can still work on their local copies – intentionally or unintentionally.
This can result in frustrating and productivity-sapping editing conflicts and data loss.
8. You Want to Leverage Your Existing Cloud Vendor and Retain the Option to Switch
With Dropbox and Box, you must use their clouds for file storage. However, many enterprises already have a relationship with Azure, AWS, or another cloud vendor they’d prefer to leverage. They don’t want their data in another separate silo.
Many enterprises also want to retain the option to switch clouds sometime in the future. This door is closed when you sign up for an EFSS solution like Box or Dropbox.
Cloud-Scale Enterprise File Services & Scalable NAS
1. There is no limit on the size or type of files. The Nasuni UniFS® global file system is the first designed to “live” in public and private object stores for near-infinite scalability.
2. Applications will run correctly because they will still interface with local fie shares. Nasuni Edge Appliances cache frequently used files on-premises, providing access to them through file shares, just like traditional NAS.
3. User drives and automation scripts won’t have to change. Nasuni presents access to shared volumes through familiar drive letters and file shares.
4. File versioning is infinite. A hallmark of the Nasuni UniFS global file system is that all files and file versions are stored as Write Once Read Many (WORM) records. You can go back to any point in time for specific files or entire volumes.
5. Privacy and security are ensured by having all data encrypted in transit and at rest in the cloud with customer-generated and held encryption keys. Neither Nasuni nor the chosen cloud provider can access the customer’s data.
6. Total control over where file data lives is provided through the option to choose the most appropriate private or public cloud object store behind Nasuni. If a public cloud is used, you can even select which cloud datacenter stores each volume.
7. Nasuni global locking enables multi-site collaboration to occur without the risk of simultaneous edits creating version conflict.
8. Nasuni’s use of and deep support for leading public clouds such as AWS and Azure and private clouds such as IBM Cloud Object Storage and Dell EMC ECS offers the flexibility to use your existing cloud provider … or switch providers in the future.
Enterprise file sync and share solutions such as Dropbox and Box are good for certain file workloads and use cases. But for global enterprises with distributed teams that need to share and collaborate on large files, a cloud-scale NAS solution like Nasuni, powered by a cloud-native global file system like Nasuni UniFS, is the only option.
What do you think? Do you use an EFSS or NAS solution? Do you – like some of our customers – use both side-by-side? Comment below and let us know!