The growing popularity and inherent complexities of hybrid storage architectures have created a demand for specialized “middleware” software designed specifically to manage storage system migration and synchronization. While designs vary, the more advanced of these file logistics systems use a custom “connector” for each storage system supported. The connectors provide a common set of functionality that enables every storage system to interoperate with all others, without sacrificing the advanced capabilities of any. The result is a hybrid content management system capable of serving as an intelligent intermediary between or among many different storage systems.
To provide the agility desired in a hybrid storage environment, the connectors normally support a wide range of both on-premises storage systems (e.g. NFS/SAN/NAS, SharePoint, and various Enterprise Content Management solutions) and EFSS platforms (e.g. Box, Dropbox for Business, Google Drive Office 365, OneDrive ShareFile, and Syncplicity). The depth and breadth of support makes these tools suitable for supporting most enterprise applications, as well as the “shadow IT” Bring Your Own Storage (BYOS) environment being created as users increasingly migrate their own data to the cloud.
Increasing frustration with its manual synchronization motivated Shawmut to pilot a third-party hybrid content management tool, and the improvement was immediate. With connectors for both Shawmut’s on-premises storage system and Citrix ShareFile, the tool automatically synchronizes files every night based on just a few “point-and-click” instructions, which has eliminated the need for painstaking manual comparisons. Now the project superintendent spends only a few minutes at the end of each workday to set up the synchronization. After confirming the tool worked as desired, the three project managers previously responsible for synchronizing the files were reassigned to more productive tasks.
While security was not a major concern at Shawmut, it is at most organizations. To accommodate this important requirement, the connectors usually include support for each file system’s security provisions, and the tool itself is normally installed behind the enterprise firewall and other perimeter defenses.
The journey to deciding which of these four alternatives might be the best and most cost-effective in any particular situation begins with taking an inventory of all the storage systems being used enterprise-wide both on-premises and in the cloud. Gartner recommends using a file analysis tool capable of scanning each file system to index its contents and file attributes. With more powerful tools now becoming available to automate the migration and synchronization of on-premises and cloud-based storage services, IT departments no longer need to assign an integration army to the task.
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