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How to securely bridge on-premise and cloud-based storage services

Mark Brazeau, CEO, SkySync | March 1, 2016
Examining the four ways you can manage migration to or synchronization with the cloud.

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter’s approach.

Cloud storage revenue is forecast to grow more than 28% annually to reach $65 billion in 2020.  The driving force is the substantial economies of scale that enable cloud-based solutions to deliver more cost-effective primary and backup storage than on-premises systems can ever hope to achieve.

Most IT departments quickly discover, however, that there are significant challenges involved in migrating and synchronizing many thousands or even millions of files from on-premise storage systems to what Gartner characterizes as Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing (EFSS) services in the cloud. According to Gartner, “by 2019 75% of enterprises will have deployed multiple EFSS capabilities, and over 50% … will struggle with problems of data migration, up from 10% today.”

In a newly-published report titled, “How to Migrate File Shares, SaaS and ECM to EFSS

Gartner identifies four ways organizations can manage migration to and/or synchronization with EFSS services—custom integration; rudimentary copy; EFSS import services; and specialized third-party tools—which we’ll explore more here:

Custom integration

Custom solutions can be handled internally by IT or outsourced to consultants with expertise in content management. Either way, the question remains: Is an “integration army” required? The answer depends on how similar or different the storage systems are, and in most situations, the “troops” find the system differences to be both broader and deeper than initially anticipated.

Every file has a unique set of properties associated with it, and most file systems treat at least some of these file properties differently. The properties include the basics, such as file name, format and metadata, along with the more advanced, such as versioning, ownership preservation, and permissions.

In a hybrid storage environment, file names might need to be normalized. Versions might need to be tracked manually. Different security models might be needed for each file system, potentially creating problems for users—and placing a significant burden on the Help Desk. In any complex custom integration, there are bound to be mistakes. And the biggest problem in a hybrid storage environment is often an inability to detect file transfer corruption or version problems before they cause problems for the organization.

Even seemingly simple scenarios can grow enormously complex. Consider the experience of Shawmut Design and Construction, a construction management firm with offices throughout the U.S. The company uses BIM 360 software from Autodesk for construction management, and the ShareFile platform from Citrix for collaboration with the team in the field.

Change orders are common in construction projects, and using out-of-date information can cause costly mistakes. So the superintendent in charge of the project took great care to ensure that all of the files were accurately synchronized daily. Using the file management capabilities built into BIM 360 and ShareFile, the effort required three project managers—two full-time and one part-time. Every day, the staff compared the versions of the many files in both systems, copying the latest from one to the other as needed to keep everything in sync. If three people are needed to handle synchronization between just two file systems, it is not surprising that complexity can increase exponentially in an organization with a dozen or more.


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