The current global pandemic has forced most of the world to embrace the work from home model at scale. As simple as that concept might seem in today’s cloud and SaaS world, creating a productive environment for employees to work remotely is quite difficult and complex, especially when applied at scale.

There is no shortage of reports regarding the technical challenges facing organizations today as they adapt to supporting a remote workforce. They focus on exposing the plethora of solutions and tools available to the enterprise, but tend to fall short when explaining how to create an enterprise ready operational model using these solutions.

The team at Native12 is looking at this problem from a different lens, one that focuses on the how. That is how to tie systems together in a forward thinking manner, that not only alleviates current COVID-19 pressures, but simultaneously relieves future technical debt by creating a common “Digital Core” to build upon. Our solutions can’t be the typical square plug for the square hole approach that solve a specific problem in a specific technical silo. We know that Cloud Native technologies promise to solve many of the problems that enterprises are facing. And therefor, our objective is to intelligently integrate multiple cloud native modalities into an operationally feasible enterprise solution.

The current pandemic has forced a new work from home requirement at scale that seems to have uncovered challenges of its own. When in actuality these are not new challenges. We have in fact been discussing them for a while as part of our digital transformation journey within the enterprise space. What has changed is that they now are being emphasized and have a spotlight shined on them due to their impact on business operations.

File services are among the most critical components required for supporting a distributed workforce, but often tend to be overlooked. You might wonder why that is. In my opinion, it’s due to the stigma of being one of the least innovation driven technologies we consume. But in actuality, public cloud providers and SaaS providers have been radically innovating the way we interact with files, how we control users’ access to them, how we secure the infrastructure they reside on, and protect the files they store. Files are the center of a business, as they hold most of an organizations’ (if not all) intellectual property, and shared access to these files is a critical key to organizations innovation and productivity. When file services are applied correctly, they bring immense value and return on investment.

When I was on the customer-side, after just a slight taste in supporting the infamous “share drive”, I tended to avoid dealing with the file services infrastructure as much as possible. I had no interest in it. The reason was that no matter what my title was, I was now in the end user support business! If you own the file server, or worse, if you’re considered “the backup guy”, you will spend a decent amount of your time on help desk tickets attempting to restore files that don’t actually exist. I wanted nothing to do with that, and really, I didn’t have the cycles to be part of that. 

The worst thing you can hear, when supporting file services, is “I’m missing a file”, that’s when you see the sweat start dripping down the foreheads of the operations team, and the main reason is that you usually don’t have guarantees that you will be able to go back to a point in time where that file still exists in the state the user needs it. An even worst scenario, is getting the notification that you’ve been hit with ransomware and your files aren’t accessible anymore, how do you recover?

The advancements that cloud native tools provide to manage unstructured data assets are undeniably beneficial, and just make sense.  Adopting these methodologies is permission to make your life easier!  

Although the challenges to adopting a new files services strategy for an organization can be immense. At Native12, we solve these challenges by helping our customers adopt new innovative technology solutions through our partner ecosystem.

What are the key challenges faced by the enterprise today while managing unstructured data and file services?

Automation. Every organization is concerned with, and moving towards, a more digital future. Automation is on the forefront of this journey, and a key to achieving valuable automation relies on the ability to integrate our infrastructure solutions in the automation frameworks applied within our organizations. When talking about file services, and integrating them into the CI/CD pipeline, we are mostly looking at the ability to interact with our infrastructure that’s hosting these services through APIs.

Data Privacy and Security. Another concern is data privacy. Maintaining compliance with all the regulatory requirements is becoming more and more difficult as the amount of data generated by the technology systems we utilize is increasing. A positive side affect of digital transformation is unlocking business data and extrapolating business value, but that also drives a negative side affect as the personal data that is regulated by these governing bodies is increasing, thus increasing the organizations exposure to both regulatory requirements and malicious attackers.

Data Mobility. Data mobility in the realm of file services is all about the speed of access from anywhere at any time. It is about enabling my business to use file workloads around the world and collaborate around those files. Think about a manufacturing entity, you have engineering teams creating large files that contain the designs or machine commands, these team members most likely aren’t in the same geographical location and aren’t contained within the construct of a “physical office”. How are they collaborating with these large files securely and quickly?

Continuing with the manufacturer example, if our engineering, or design, team is located in NY, our QA team is located in Detroit, and our factory is located in Mexico, then it’s extremely important for the engineering team to make a design change that is immediately visible to the QA team to review. And when that design is approved, it needs to be accessible in the manufacturing facility. It’s extremely important in this scenario to change how the business consumes file services to ensure collaboration between the teams mentioned above. And this is just one generic example, each organization has it’s own stories of exactly this requirement. Apply this to education and the current pandemic driven remote teaching needs, apply it to telemedicine, or game designs, or any vertical and use case you want, and the requirements are almost identical.

How to build smarter file services that solve today’s enterprise challenges?

We have to view object storage essentially as an adaptation of cloud architecture and apply the same basic principles of containers and microservices. You distribute your assets, in this case your data objects, across multiple servers. By doing this, you are able to reach tremendous scale, and don’t need to really perform backups as there are multiple copies of your data objects distributed across multiple storage nodes. We then need to create clusters of these servers in geographic areas close to where our workforce exists so that, in a similar manner to what CDN does, each copy of your data object isn’t only stored for backup but is also available for access by your workforce.

Taking into consideration these requirements and statements, we need storage that is extremely fast, low latency and provides fast response times. One that can integrate with our existing investments on premises and in the cloud allowing the extension of these storage assets without complicating the environment further. We don’t just need more storage; we need smarter storage solutions that make things easier!

We need to apply the right intelligence at the right place, create file services that work with your organizational requirements, that are flexible and agile, and ultimately work towards ensuring that file services are not the blocker to your organizations technical agility. To top it off we need to wrap all of that in a solid data protection package ensuring business continuity and data resiliency.

How is Native12 solving this issue?

A key to the digital strategy at Native12 is enabling our customers to transform their file services into a more nimble and distributed solution. One that solves the outlined challenges, while respecting and honoring the constraints placed on the traditional enterprise. Native12 calls on the Nasuni cloud-native file services platform to solve these challenges for our customers and so much more!

Through our partnership with Nasuni, we are enabling our customers to build a cloud-based file services deployment, alleviating the frustrations around inefficiencies of traditional NAS infrastructures and their costs. Enabling their distributed transitional workforce to do what they are supposed to do. And that is to create, innovate, and collaborate in the easiest and most streamlined manner possible. Regardless of their geographic location or connectivity medium.

The Nasuni file services platform is built for the cloud, at its heart it runs on UniFS, an innovative and unique file system that enables unlimited scale and powers the platform. It utilizes a cloud native design that allows for space efficient chunking mechanisms, lowering your on-prem and cloud storage needs, while enabling faster retrieval performance. The platform is centrally controlled by an orchestration center & a management console that’s easy to use and intuitive, with analytics layered on to help convert unstructured data into big data, as well as much more.

Stay tuned as we share more of our integrations and collaborations with our partners at Nasuni. We will be releasing a podcast episode for “Native12’s Two Guys Talk Tech” soon, as well as a series of informational and training webinars with our Partner Nasuni

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read our blog, we hope it has been informative, and please contact us if you have any comments or questions at blogs@native12.com.

The Native12 Innovation Center


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