How to Stop See-Sawing Between Centralized and Decentralized File Storage

the-centralization-cycle-webRecently, a Senior IT Director at a major real estate company was telling me about a painful and all-too-common storage problem. I hear it from enterprise IT leaders and CIOs across industries. In the effort to balance the needs of the business against the needs of end users, most large organizations have spent the last few decades see-sawing between centralized and decentralized file storage.

And they’re sick of it.

Every five or ten years, companies push one way or the other. You decentralize file storage to improve performance for workers at the edge. Then the business decides this is too expensive; they lack control and cannot ensure data availability. Maybe it also violates compliance policies or poses a security risk. Either way, the enterprise shifts back to centralized file storage.

A few more years pass and, driven by user complaints or market forces, the business see-saws back to decentralization. It’s the file storage version of Groundhog Day, and it’s costing enterprises far too much money and time.  This is exponentially problematic for companies that grow through acquisitions.

End User Needs vs. IT Control

In another recent meeting, a veteran IT Administrator and I were talking about how this see-saw effect goes back decades. At first, when you had green screens connecting to mainframe computers, centralization was the only option. Then distributed computing evolved, pushing everything out to the edge. This boosted performance for these workers, and some functions, like rich graphical interfaces, could only be provided at the edge. But it was far too expensive, and there was a shadow IT element to the transition. End users were getting what they wanted, but IT was losing control.

Following 9/11, concerns around compliance, security, data sovereignty and availability increased. Companies decided they didn’t want files bouncing around a widely distributed storage environment. Everyone started centralizing again, damaging companies like SUN Microsystems, which thrived at the edge.

“Enterprises want the security, compliance and strong IT controls of a centralized file storage solution, combined with the fast performance at the edge of a decentralized system.”

Yet this didn’t last long, either. An apparently booming economy, combined with complaints from end users at the edge, pushed companies to decentralize storage. Then the 2008 crash flipped the switch again. Slashed budgets forced companies to centralize to cut costs.

Based on my conversations in the field, I can tell you that nobody wants to go through one of these cycles again.

How Cloud Offers the Best of Both Worlds

At the end of the day, what enterprises want is an approach that delivers the best of both worlds. They want the security, compliance and strong IT controls of a centralized file storage solution, combined with the fast performance at the edge of a decentralized system. And they need this solution to be reasonably priced.

Ten years ago, expecting all this from an enterprise storage solution would have been blindly wishful thinking. Today, cloud has the potential to disrupt the centralization/decentralization cycle, but cloud alone can’t solve the problem. That’s why I’m sitting across from all these CIOs and IT leaders in the first place. Our cloud-native file system, UniFS™, allows Nasuni clients to leverage the value, scale and durability of cloud storage while maintaining security and performance at the edge.

We’re changing the conversation by showing enterprises how Nasuni offers them a chance to jump off the centralization/decentralization see-saw for good. Our clients benefit from a unique combination of scalability, security, performance and IT control that no other provider can offer. We’ve rolled the benefits of centralization and decentralization into a single file storage solution.

Find out more about how Nasuni can help you get off the centralization/decentralization see-saw and embrace the future of file storage and protection.