November 3, 2022
By Russ Kennedy
The pandemic has forever changed our world, including the way we work. Forced to quarantine at home, office workers managed to do their jobs remotely, and many discovered they preferred not going to the office — at least not every day. Employers competing in the tight labor market have had to adapt, and most have accepted the reality that fully remote and hybrid work models are here to stay.
Core infrastructure, however, hasn’t evolved enough to support the growing remote and hybrid workforce. Businesses are challenged to provide the infrastructure needed to keep their employees productive no matter where they work — whether that’s from headquarters or branch offices, in a home office, or in a hotel room or shared workspace. With such a widely distributed workforce, the on-premises data center is no longer the heart of the business. Organizations must find a new way to store, access, share and protect their file data to meet these new workforce demands.
A recent Gartner report aptly describes the shift away from the data center: “Data services and storage are expanding toward the cloud and out to edge locations.” In that scenario, it’s incumbent upon enterprises to serve their end users “at the edge.” That calls for a new approach to data storage, access, sharing and security that enables organizations to support remote and hybrid workers.
Traditional Approaches Fall Short
Yesterday’s solutions aren’t designed for today’s transformed environment. Remote workers have had to contend with limited or no connection to corporate networks, leading to high latency, spotty access and difficulty sharing files. That’s hardly the recipe for collaboration or even individual productivity.
Security measures have further complicated the situation. Though rightly concerned about security, enterprises have been heavily relying on VPNs, which can further compromise performance. Frustrated employees often resort to saving files offline, making it vulnerable and inaccessible to colleagues that may need to work on the same data.
Users have come to rely heavily on collaboration tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, which can be challenging to implement and manage with a highly distributed workforce. Often, data winds up being stored in multiple locations, which adds to cost and vulnerability.
A Data Solution for a Changed World
There are new services and tools to address the growing need for access anywhere, anytime. With so many employees working remotely, traditional solutions can no longer do the job. Platforms must be tailored to support the needs of the remote and hybrid workforce.
The goal of any solution now must be to give employees the ability to manage and share data as seamlessly as if they were all in the same location. That requires addressing issues that are specific to new working models. Particular effort should be placed on providing the ability to securely access files without requiring a VPN or investing in additional local file servers. Users must be able to access the data they need quickly and efficiently over an internet connection even if they have low bandwidth. That can be made possible by splitting large files into pieces that are sent in parallel over multiple streams and reassembled in a continuous file at the target location.
What’s more, a cloud drive that serves as a network drive gives users a local view of remote data. There’s no compromise in security, because organizations can require two-factor authentication to enable their users to copy, move, lock and share files and folders from the web desktop directly with a cloud-based file system.
This approach further addresses a common pain point: offline work that frequently hinders collaboration. A desktop file system can allow users to work offline but ensures data availability by automatically syncing it to the corporate file share when users reconnect to the network.
The ability to integrate with widely used collaboration apps is another must-have in the remote/hybrid work world, one that should be built into every platform. To keep work flowing smoothly, users want to be able to save, edit and search files within their go-to apps, including Slack, Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Teams.
Finally, there is a need to share data with their extended project teams — including external users such as partners, contractors, clients and suppliers. By requiring passwords and imposing expiration limits, it’s possible to provide such access without compromising security or control.
Keeping Pace with Progress
There’s little doubt that the way we work will continue to evolve, so organizations must be ready to adapt and evolve. By providing efficient, secure access to file data wherever and whenever it’s needed, businesses can give their employees the tools they need to succeed — and ensure their own success in the process.
Russ Kennedy is chief product officer at Nasuni, which provides a file services platform built for the cloud. He previously directed product strategy at Cleversafe through its $1.3 billion acquisition by IBM. Earlier in his career, he served in a variety of product management and development roles, most notably at StorageTek (acquired by Sun Microsystems. An avid cyclist and hiker, Kennedy resides in Boulder, Colo., with his family. He has a bachelor’s in computer science from Colorado State University and an MBA in international business from the University of Colorado. You may follow him on LinkedIn or @Nasuni on Twitter.
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