Select a File Storage Solution That’s Right for Your Business

As discussed in Improve Efficiency with an Effective File Structure, it is important to develop a system for keeping track of your electronic files. A strategy which includes a storage solution, implementation, and guidelines will go a long way towards achieving the goal of an efficient file system that is easy to remember and use.  In this discussion, we’re focusing on considerations in selecting the best file storage solution for your organization. 

Determining the right “home” for your files is not as straightforward as it used to be. Before the cloud, the primary decision factor was whether data needed to be shared across the organization. As the internet matured and the option of cloud storage became more robust and accessible, whether to keep your data local or in the cloud became another key decision. The options regarding where to store data should be weighed carefully based on when and how accessible the data needs to be to support your business needs.  As you evaluate these options, consider the following:

Local or Cloud File Storage?

File storage solutions can be housed on a local server or through a cloud-based solution. While there are pros and cons to each, you need to review the options carefully to determine which is best for your business. And keep in mind that the best option might be to implement different strategies for different types of data.  It is possible to have a hybrid solution where some files are stored locally, and others are in the cloud. Here’s a summary of primary considerations.

 

Local

Hardware and software are purchased, installed and maintained by your organization.

Cloud

Hardware and software are made available through a vendor service agreement and are accessible via connectivity.

Cost

Your organization must budget for:

  • A secure data center location,
  • Initial and ongoing hardware costs, and
  • Initial and ongoing software purchase/licensing and maintenance costs.
  • Your organization must select and contract with a cloud-based provider, who will provide a data center, hardware, software and storage on an ongoing basis.
  • You may be responsible for initial purchase/licensing costs, depending on your contractual arrangement.
  • Typically, storage is purchased based on your size requirements.  Keep in mind that large data storage requirements can be costly.
  • Meeting specific security requirements may require additional investment.

Availability, Performance and Access

  • Availability to your data is determined based on your internal network and connectivity.  However, outages or local disasters may limit data availability.
  • Performance improvement may be realized by improving internal/local bandwidth.
  • Remote access may be limited, depending on the access and connectivity tools that you have deployed.
  • Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity strategies are developed and maintained in-house.
  • Your vendor should include Service Level Agreement(s) that outline their up-time levels and strategies for managing outages.
  • Your vendor should have defined Disaster Recovery strategies and response time guarantees.  However, Business Continuity planning likely remains in-house.
  • Internet bandwidth can impact performance.
  • Remote access should be available.  However, there are different accessibility levels so be sure that you understand your requirements and what your vendor supports.

Flexibility

  • Scalability constrained by hardware investments
  • Flexible scalability options but often at a price

Deployment

Deployment requires your organization to complete all the steps, basically:

  • Secure the physical location for your server(s),
  • Build the server(s),
  • Install and configure the software and/or create the file structure,
  • Define and implement your security controls, and
  • Move the data.

Deployment is coordinated through your vendor and should have minimal internal impact:

  • Establish connectivity.
  • Work with your vendor to configure your software and security options and move the data.

 

Security

  • Security is dependent on how your organization has implemented controls and infrastructure.
  • Because the data is stored locally, there may be less risk of security issues.
  • Security strategies may be sophisticated, provide better protection, and include:
    • Advanced firewalls,
    • Intrusion detection, and
    • Encryption.
  • Make sure that you ensure privacy and security mitigations meet your requirements if data is stored in another country.

Compliance

Your organization’s industry and related regulations will determine your compliance requirements.  A split strategy where some data is kept in-house, and other data is in the cloud may be an alternative to ensure compliance.

  • Data requirements for your industry may require local data storage to ensure compliance within your budget constraints.
  • Most often, security and data requirements can be met with cloud-based solutions, but it may be at a significant price.

Management

  • Requires that your organization’s resources monitor data center/server activities, address management of hardware and software, and a plan for meeting data storage requirements
  • Your vendor should include Service Level Agreement(s) that outline their approach to managing cloud-based resources.
  • You should review the depth and breadth of the vendor’s resources to ensure that they have appropriate experience to support your needs.

 

Understanding the available file storage options and weighing the criteria that go into making a final decision on the best approach for your business is a challenge. Ninestone has supported a variety of businesses to develop strategies and implement solutions that meet their specific business needs. Our experienced consultants are ready to help your business design and execute a solution that works for you.

Additional Resources

The Case of the Missing File

Improve Efficiency with an Effective File Structure

Achieve Better Team Collaboration with File Sharing