Briefing Note: MobileFAST Extends Distributed Enterprise File Sharing to Mobile Devices

Storage Switzerland was briefed last fall about Talon FAST solutions that are designed to provide secure file sharing between remote locations or branch offices of a company. Installed in those branch offices in place of a local file server, it is tightly integrated with Windows Server to make collaboration between distributed groups of employees more seamless. Now Talon has added MobileFAST to extend that Windows file sharing experience to mobile devices, leveraging Talon’s FAST technology to improve performance and simplify deployment within the Microsoft environment.

Talon’s RemoteFAST product is popular in industries like architecture, engineering and construction, where the requirements include collaborating on large engineering and office files that need to be shared with remote job sites. These use cases are less than ideal for traditional File Sync and Share (FS&S) solutions that can’t typically handle large data sets efficiently and don’t ensure data integrity via global file locking, which Talon’s technology is specifically designed for. Healthcare is another industry with similar problems around large files and distributed locations.

However, it’s not just branch offices that need an efficient Windows file sharing solution. Most organizations now acknowledge that they need to support their employees’ work processes on ‘bring your own’ devices as well. In addition to maximizing productivity, they need to manage the “shadow IT” problem, the loss of control over corporate data that occurs when employees use their own cloud file sharing accounts, like DropBox and BOX for work. So the FS&S solution they implement also needs to makes sense for IT.

Talon’s MobileFAST is designed for Windows environments, providing secure file access on Windows, iOS and Android mobile devices so that employees can continue their work wherever they go. In addition, MobileFAST offers a web-access portal so that users can access company files with any browser-enabled device. MobileFAST also provides a client for remote Windows computers that essentially duplicates the on-site experience with real-time synchronization of files and folders and virtual network support for drive letters and UNC paths.

MobileFAST is designed to provide a Windows ‘Explorer-like’ experience for users. It’s 100% integrated with Microsoft environments, leveraging existing NTFS permissions and authentication/authorization via Active Directory, including remote device wiping. MobileFAST provides on-premise and cloud-based file storage access without a VPN, with secure SSL/HTTPS transport using (Cloud) Portal Services. It also provides online and offline access so that users can work when cell bandwidth is inadequate or coverage isn’t available.

Talon allows selected data to be stored on-site as well as the cloud. For File Sync and Share solutions, this is an important feature as it provides a level of flexibility that’s appealing to companies that have existing infrastructure they want to use. It also enables compliance with corporate or industry regulations and data governance laws.

MobileFAST also leverages the data handling technologies that were developed for the RemoteFAST product to improve file transfer performance and efficiency between corporate offices and individual end users. These include data reduction, intelligent file caching and optimization of file based traffic.

StorageSwiss Take

Working wherever, on whatever device they choose, is the new norm for companies and one of the latest requirements that corporate IT must address. While FS&S solutions are plentiful, care should be taken to understand how those systems support the kinds of datasets the company handles and how well they integrate into the existing infrastructure. For Windows-specific environments, Talon’s MobileFAST provides a compelling alternative to enterprise cloud based FS&S solutions.

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Eric is an Analyst with Storage Switzerland and has over 25 years experience in high-technology industries. He’s held technical, management and marketing positions in the computer storage, instrumentation, digital imaging and test equipment fields. He has spent the past 15 years in the data storage field, with storage hardware manufacturers and as a national storage integrator, designing and implementing open systems storage solutions for companies in the Western United States.  Eric earned degrees in electrical/computer engineering from the University of Colorado and marketing from California State University, Humboldt.  He and his wife live in Colorado and have twins in college.

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