Disclaimer: I am not one of the ESG analysts who specializes in "mobility" or cloud-based file services … I’m “the backup guy” covering data protection. But as a twenty-five-year hands-on technologist, I’m sharing a personal experience for your consideration.
This weekend, I decided to fully embrace the cloud by getting rid of my last "production IT resource" in my Dallas office—a file server. This is not complicated, right? It is currently a 2TB VM with less than a dozen file shares on it and serving 3-5 users with various permissions to the shares. That is a configuration that anyone who has ever spun up a copy of Windows Server OS could do in less than an hour—but can you do it in the cloud? Not as easily as you might think.
I started with Office365. The setup was super easy, user and group management was very intuitive, and DNS integration with my third-party registrar was simple and well-integrated. Everything looks great as a "platform"—but how about the file services:
Commentary: After running Windows Server file services for twenty years, I really wanted to just embrace Microsoft’s cloud solutions … but until "OneDrive for Business" really is "OneDrive" (a file sync/share platform), I just can’t. This is scary for those IT organizations that embrace Office365 and presume that OneDrive will meet their needs, without so much as a one-day evaluation.
But due to the per-user vs. per-device challenge, my search likely isn’t over yet. There are several other file-sharing services in market today … so I’d love your feedback or suggestions. Leave a comment below or tweet me at @JBuff.
At this point, it appears that the “big platform vendors” (Google/Microsoft) don’t yet have the functionality to displace a basic file server in my office, so I’ll be looking for a niche solution instead. Overall, the difference in functionality for something as "basic" as file serving is just another testament that a unified platform may sound good on paper, but it’s actually the usability of the individual components or services that really matter. IT is about functionality and enablement.
Translate that back to my data protection day job: A "unified" backup solution sounds great and even looks good in a comparative table, but how well does the solution do specifically with each of the myriad workloads that are unified … how well do VM backups work (and how fast are the VM restores)? … how efficient are the laptop backups? … can it back up SaaS like the cloud services listed above? If your unified data protection solution can’t answer each of those questions well on its own, then you’ll likely be adding additional backup tools for VMs, and endpoints, and SaaS. Because “unified” doesn’t matter if it backs up or recovers all workloads in a "uniformly" insufficient way.
Over the next few evenings, I’ll be transferring my file server’s data to the cloud … and meanwhile, I’ll be looking for a way to ensure the data is backed up as well from the cloud as it was in my own environment (which has equally few options). The exercise has been an enlightening one.
I hope that reading this was perhaps enlightening as well.