One of the popular use cases for Windows Server 2008 is as a file server but on January 14th Microsoft stopped supporting the 2008 version of the operating system. Those using Server 2012 as a file server can assume that the clock is ticking for them as well. The problem is, the file server use case means migrating a lot of data and the problem is only getting worse.
The File Server Migration Hamster Wheel
Every three years or so, organizations that count on Windows, or any operating system as their file server platform, find themselves on a migration hamster wheel. Each time Microsoft ends support on a version of their operating system, the IT team is forced to install the latest version of Windows on a new server, then configure that server as a file server and then migrate data to it. They also need to make sure that the folder structure and permissions are set correctly so that users can seamlessly log into the new server when ready.
With each successive upgrade the number of files, the size of those files and more than likely the number of users increases. As a result, each upgrade becomes increasingly more challenging.
Getting off the File Server Migration Hamster Wheel
There are plenty of vendors that offer ways off of the migration hamster wheel. One group is all the Network Attached Storage (NAS) vendors on the market. However, these solutions eventually face similar challenges; the need to upgrade operating systems and systems that run out of capacity. Storage refresh and migration is not eliminated by most NAS solutions.
Data protection, while challenging for both file servers and NAS systems, becomes even more difficult for the latter. Many leading data protection vendors still don’t have viable backup solutions for high-capacity, high-file-count NAS systems. The data protection problem also promises to get worse since most NAS backups today are image based and image based backups may not be compatible with data privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA.
What About The Cloud?
Many organizations are looking to the cloud as an answer to the file server challenges. With the cloud, scalability and software upgrades become the problem of the provider and not the organization. Additionally, most providers also have a proven track record of successful upgrades. It also provides a centralized repository, ideal for the globally distributed organization.
The challenge with the cloud is the latency of retrieving data once it is stored there. The solution is an on-premises appliance that stores a local copy of the most active portion of the organization’s data set. The problem is that many of these appliances break the concept of global access, in that they don’t manage what files are in use across the organization.
IT professionals need to understand that a cloud based file server requires a solution that is compatible with Directory Services, can intelligently cache the right data on-premises while also understanding the global relationship between the organization’s various locations.
Nasuni recently joined Storage Switzerland for a webinar that dives deeper into the shortcomings of legacy file server and NAS infrastructures when it comes to serving modern file workload demands. We also discuss how a cloud-native file system can complement public cloud services to overcome these headaches.