Object Storage or NAS for File Sync and Share

The primary motivation behind using file sync and share used to be the “sync” component. Now, however, it is sharing. In an era where devices are almost always connected to the internet, syncing is less of a priority, although ubiquitous internet connectivity makes sharing more practical and in higher demand. Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) solutions enable on-premises data sharing and give the option of using network attached storage (NAS) or an Object Storage System as the backend storage. The default choice for IT professionals has typically been NAS but object storage may be the better option. In this blog, we compare the two.

Requirements to enable “share” for On-Premises Storage

Enabling data sharing for on-premises storage requires two components. The first is software. Typically known as EFFS, this category is evolving to encompass more of a file fabric where data is accessible from a variety of locations, all under the purview of IT.

IT control over the sharing process is increasingly critical as the world becomes more aware of the importance of data security and data privacy. IT needs to ensure that file sharing only occurs with trusted persons and organizations, set limits for how long those shares are in effect, and guarantee that the data is removed if something like a right to be forgotten is requested. You can read more about moving to a file fabric in our blog “Refining Your GDPR Strategy – Addressing User Data”.

The Case for Object Storage

The hardware component is equally important. While many of the EFSS products can leverage almost any storage system, object storage is uniquely positioned as the best choice.

First, object storage is innately secure; files are “read only” by default, which protects them from unauthorized access. They are also automatically versioned, so changes to a file can be undone.

Second, object storage scales, in terms of both overall capacity and the number of files it can store. Most EFSS environments won’t stress storage capacity limits, but the file counts in these environments can.

Third, object storage is multi-purpose. If the organization buys a traditional NAS for its EFSS project, then it almost always dedicates it to that task. Organizations using object storage for EFSS can also leverage it for backup storage, archive storage, and IoT storage. Consolidating all of these unstructured data use cases on a single storage platform reduces overall storage infrastructure costs and reduces IT operations costs.

Fourth, object storage is less expensive than most NAS systems. Object storage systems are software defined solutions that leverage commodity hardware. Most NAS systems are proprietary and require the customer to purchase the hardware from the NAS vendor.

StorageSwiss Take

IT typically selects a NAS solution for their EFSS project out of familiarity. It seems easier. Object storage systems are different and may require a little more planning at implementation because the scale-out cluster initially requires bringing up three nodes. However, once the initial implementation is complete, IT professionals will find a very familiar operating environment and the long-term payoff of reduced costs and increased usefulness make it well worth the effort.

There is one other option for IT to consider. It is using the cloud for storage instead of on-premises storage. In our next blog, we will compare cloud storage to on-premises object storage for the EFSS use case.

In the meantime, our on demand webinar “How to Design a Compliant GDPR-Ready Collaboration System” has details on creating a secure on-premises EFSS solution that addresses the demands of safe collaboration.

Watch On Demand

Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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