Developing a Solution to File Logistics When Synchronizing Storage Platforms
When the time comes for a migration, or any sort of data syncing, here are some factors to keep in mind for your file logistics.
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Companies that wish to synchronize their files across systems — whether it's for in-place migrations, file backup, or hybrid storage environments — are often unaware of the many challenges that come along with it. It's vital to upgrade from traditional migration techniques in order to avoid freak accidents with on-site storage, clumsy long distance hard drive transportation, or company-wide storage system changes, but a full storage system synchronization can frustrate just as easily when attempting to move content between ordinarily incompatible file platforms.
Once an organization decides that large-scale file migrations, backups, and synchronizations are necessary, these processes can be fraught with potential problems, and when issues arise, it can become a drain on company time and resources to fix them. Understanding what factors could interfere with these processes and how the right software can mitigate them is, therefore, critical to avoiding an IT mess.
Problems With File Logistics on a Large Scale
An important issue for IT administrators to be aware of is "file logistics," a bulk transfer nightmare that complicates content integration between on-premises storage platforms and cloud-based services. Automated file logistics refers to the management of artifacts affiliated with an organization's tens to hundreds of millions of files. A short list of common artifacts includes:
Modification information and history.
User and group permissions, whether they’re read, write, edit, delete, or full.
Extended, definable metadata.
Additional conflicts that can exist between incompatible systems.
Storage administrators are often under the impression that file migration, syncing, and backup can be done as a bulk transfer, but file logistics can make large-scale migration between on-premises and cloud storage platforms — and vice-versa — a nightmarish case of errors and mistranslations.
This process becomes further complicated when you consider the countless other challenges posed by things like differing version schemas, incompatible file names caused by "long paths" or illegal characters when migrating content, unsynchronized clocks, or the ever-dreaded human error: a lack of organizational communication. It's important to uniformly phase tech changes through every level and department in an organization, but when such changes are implemented slowly, incompletely, or with resistance from employee-formed Shadow IT, the potential for cross-platform friction worsens.
A Software Solution: Hybrid Content Architectures With Embedded File Logistics
The challenge for storage and infrastructure administrators, then, is how to pull off bulk transfers without file logistics causing problems. One solution growing in popularity is a combined approach, using third-party software to manage the friction and maintain a synchronization of both cloud-based and on-premises storage services.
This integrated process is accomplished with a new generation of hybrid architecture developed to embed automated file logistics as an intelligent middleware membrane between platforms. Gartner heralded the idea in its 2015 "Cool Vendors in Content Management" report, and for good reason, too: "A hybrid content architecture can help with the simplicity and ease of synchronization/migration of content across multiple content platforms."
This architecture works because the middleware membrane is able to streamline the transfer process by changing file artifacts as necessary to meet the parameters of their new environment. For example, if the transfer destination storage system has a different file naming requirement than the source storage system, the middleware technology will alter characteristics like character and file type to meet the new guidelines.
The process begins when the middleware is first tightly integrated with an organization's existing storage platforms, as the software learns about its surroundings by analyzing the APIs of each respective system. Simulated test jobs then expose what necessary file logistics translations must take place, and the middleware administrator uses this information to standardize the automated synchronization configuration.
Sometimes this analysis can even expose those real world problems of lacking technological communication. By informing administrators of issues so broad they may have escaped detection, the middleware's pre-transfer and post-transfer analysis reports can help IT take preventive steps for the future.
But when prevention can only go so far, automation does the rest. The administrator's fine-tuned configurations and the middleware's dynamic, constantly evolving interpretation of platform support information work together to continually modify file artifacts as bi-directional transfer takes place.
It's a thankfully transparent process, too. The naked eye of the end user won't be able to tell that a facilitated file translation has even occurred. Because the synchronization happens in near-real time, the translations will occur as necessary while files move back and forth between systems. This avoids complications for companies using different storage platforms.
Seamless File Logistics in Action
Sometimes, middleware software solutions like the above are chosen for more than just generic utility and problem-solving; sometimes the problem originates from a deeper source: ideology. Skullcandy is a popular audio brand with free spirit deeply embedded in its company culture. Skullcandy encouraged this philosophy amongst employees by allowing them to use the storage platform of their choice.
Windows users company-wide preferred Microsoft SharePoint for its on-premise drive mapping, but Mac users storing files through Dropbox had issues synchronizing cloud and on-premise files whilst maintaining frustrating logistical issues. By employing middleware file synchronization software, Skullcandy was able to standardize file usability and accessibility across systems while still maintaining freedom of choice for its user base; no matter what system an employee is on, they can all access the same content.
No matter the reason, businesses looking to transfer large amounts of files and users across storage systems will have to consider all of the risks and challenges associated with such a move. Luckily, third-party file transfer solutions exist to help mitigate those risks.
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