Accelerating Digital Transformation with Modernized Access

Modernizing Access to File Servers OR Cloud Storage 

Why the double emphasis on “OR” instead of "AND"? That minor change relates to an important distinction that has become increasingly meaningful as more companies realize that a complete migration to the cloud may not be possible or practical. For example, more of our managed service provider (MSP) partners are getting requests from mid-market and larger enterprises for solutions that will enhance access to data that needs to remain on-premises. These enterprises are facing the challenge that modernizing access to a file server is usually presumed to mean that the file server’s data must be migrated to the cloud. As a result, the solutions they find will commonly offer an orchestration layer has to be cloud-based which may not satisfy their need for a self-hosted solution that is entirely on-premises. 

On the other hand, if they can migrate file server data to the cloud as part of a total migration, they may find the costs of file server equivalent storage cost-prohibitive unless they can leverage a private blob storage account as a file server. 

For years we’ve contended that file server modernization and the conveniently familiar file server experience should be independent of data location. Our long-term partners know this was a hard story to sell when the obvious thing to do was move to the cloud. Fortunately, the industry has vindicated these ideas with increased focus on hybrid, multi-cloud and on-premises use cases. It’s simply become too difficult to ignore the reality that a substantial percentage of enterprise data will remain on-premises but still needs to be modernized to complete the digital transformation of larger organizations with more complex data sets. 

But isn't digital transformation just another marketing slogan? 

If you’ve been busy dealing with the latest security threats, managing cloud migrations, backups, resetting passwords, or other tactical needs, you can be forgiven for assuming the phrase “digital transformation” as just another marketing slogan. But it describes a real, relevant, and fundamental shift in the relationship between enterprises and the technologies they use. It’s been going on for decades, having moved us from the days when IT was viewed as a tactical service to keep the computers and printers working, to the currently accelerating trend where IT leaders are expected to use technology to optimize business processes, operations, customer experiences, and even company culture. In other words, drive an enterprise-wide digital transformation strategy.  


According to a Forbes magazine article that cited a survey of 1400 companies, companies leading with digital transformation are seeing twice the revenue growth as those not so digitally inclined”. These companies also enjoy a wide variety of additional benefits which include improvements in:  

  • Profitability
  • Productivity 
  • Agility 
  • Customer Experience 
  • Collaboration 
  • Resource Management 
Unsurprisingly, the common assumption is that many of these benefits come from moving data, applications, and infrastructure to the cloud and leveraging cloud-based services. In particular, the “modernization” of data location, is expected to provide a significant portion, if not most of the improvements in collaboration, productivity, and customer experience.  


So why is 90% of enterprise data still on premises in corporate file servers? 

Despite the potential benefits of cloud migration, companies like VMWare and Amazon have observed that 85 to 90% of enterprise data remains on-premises. There’s a long list of reasons for this, but most relate to cost, complexity, or compliance. For example, migrating a legacy application to the cloud can prove to be costly, resource intensive, and incredibly time-consuming. Data sovereignty or compliance constraints might also require that data remain on-premises, or the data set might be so large that the costs of file server equivalents in the cloud become prohibitive. 


Industry Increasing Focus on Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Deployments 

Forces like these have led to an increased focus on hybrid cloud and multi-cloud deployments by industry leaders. The same companies that once had a laser focus on pure cloud migration have been forced to accommodate enterprise needs to deal with both on-premises and cloud-based use cases. 


Common Cloud Migration Conundrums 

For example, what if you want to convert an enterprise application to a microservice-based architecture? Do you have the time, money, or capability to rewrite or rearchitect the application? No? Ok, the next option might be to “lift and shift” the application in its current form from a local server to a cloud-based virtual machine (VM). But what about the data set? What if you can’t pay for terabytes of data on a cloud VM when a single terabyte can cost hundreds of dollars per month? This is just a high-level example of the kinds of analysis that keep some applications and their data on-premises.  


Modernize Data On-Premises?

But what about your hybrid workforce? Your VPN performed fine with just a handful of remote workers, but can it handle the recent growth to hundreds of hybrid workers? What happens when they lose connectivity, need access from a mobile device, move around through different networks, or make unsanctioned copies of the data? 



Gladinet has focused on two ways to accelerate digital transformation: 

  • Modernizing remote access to on-prem file servers 
  • Making it easier to move a file server into the cloud 

Modernizing Remote Access to On-Prem File Shares for a Hybrid Workforce


An Example from Construction:

  • Construction company forced to keep data on-premises 
  • Hybrid workforce growth increasing strain on traditional VPN 
  • Company modernizes remote access with Triofox 

Background 

A Telco in New Zealand serviced one of the country’s largest construction companies with over 3000 employees. With all their data on-premises, their 300 remote workers used VPN connections for remote access from project sites or at home. But the VPN started to become increasingly problematic as the remote workforce grew from 300 to almost 3000 users because of COVID restrictions. SharePoint was of course a consideration, but they preferred to maintain local control of their data. There were also a lot of AutoCAD files that proved to be incompatible and the projected costs of moving more than 50 TB of data to SharePoint were quite high. So they ultimately decided to keep the data on their file server and find a way to provide the benefits of modernization to their now hybrid workforce using the existing file servers.  


Solution and Results 

The solution to their problems came from a consultant who was familiar with Triofox, one of Gladinet’s products. The implementation was quite successful and their employees regularly praised the product with comments like, “it’s so fast we thought it wasn’t working...” and “why didn’t we do this sooner”. Like many other Triofox customers, they loved its ability to create an in-office experience for remote workers with mapped drives that performed exactly as they would in the office. Even when using AutoCAD, and other applications with complex file locking mechanisms, they experienced nothing but full compatibility.

 


Accelerating Digital Transformation Using Object Storage as a Low-Cost, Accessible Archive 



An Example from Engineering: 

  • Company wanted to move application and file servers to the cloud
  • File servers had 35TB of data which would be too expensive to host on cloud servers 
  • No resources to classify data to archive the less frequently used portions 
  • Uses CentreStack to archive file server data to blob storage 
  • Creates cloud-based file server experience 

Background 

An engineering company wanted to improve operational efficiency by moving all its infrastructure to Azure. They initially planned to move all application servers to Azure virtual machines but had over 35 TB on their NetApp file servers. So, instead of subjecting themselves to the challenge of classifying the data to archive less frequently accessed, older data, they decided to reduce migration costs by using Azure blob storage as a storage archive. The only problem was that they needed a way to make that blob storage readily accessible to employees. 


Solution and Results  

That problem was solved by using CentreStack to synchronize 35 TB of data from their NetApp file server to Azure blob storage. This allowed them to save thousands of dollars per month just based on the difference in cost between Azure blob storage and the cost of file shares in Azure. Furthermore, they were able to maintain the mapped, network file share experience that their employees were used to, even though they were now connected to Azure blob storage instead of the NetApp file server which had been retired.  

 

Partnering with Gladinet to Accelerate Business Transformation

Please schedule some time to learn more about partnering with us to accelerate digital transformation by modernizing file server access.


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