Symposit was recently tasked by a client to develop a strategy to migrate away from a legacy file server that the company used internally to collaborate, share large files, and store sensitive corporate data. We knew that the server was aging and the goal was to get rid of having a server altogether. Thus, we compiled a list of high-level requirements:

-Must be able to handle company data (~1TB)
-Must have redundancy & backups
-Must be usable in a similar fashion that the users were accustomed to (Windows Explorer, drag and drop, etc)
-Must have ability to share files with people outside of the org
-Must be accessible remotely

We thought about our options and the pros and cons of each possible solution:

Option 1 – New Windows ServerĀ 
Pros:
-Similar solution to existing, proven reliability
-Highly manageable and flexible
-Can be used for other purposes besides file-sharing ie. Active Directory, Web Server, FTP
-Limitless possibilities for extending via hardware/apps/etc
-Very low cost and rapid deployment, no recurring fees

Cons:
-Requires constant maintenance, Windows updates, patching, etc.
-Because of constant maintenance, more downtime associated, higher risk of an issue
-Risk of environmental failure or loss (electrical issue, heating, water, theft, etc)
-Takes up space, more wires/cables/ugly equipment

Option 2 – NAS Device (network attached storage)
Pros:
-Quick to deploy, generally a day or two to configure and move data
-Fast access because it is local
-Has Cloud Backup capabilities, as well as antivirus, and the ability to add other apps
-No monthly subscription fees
-Small footprint

Cons:
-Risk of environmental failure or loss (electrical issue, heating, water, theft, etc)
-Requires specialized hard drives for RAID arrays, typically more expensive
-Larger initial expenditure
-Requires less maintenance than a server, but still needs firmware updates periodically so risk of downtime

Option 3 – Cloud-based storageĀ 
Pros:
-No hardware to deploy! No wires, equipment, etc
-Some providers have file-streaming meaning data is mostly stored in the cloud
-Redundant data-centers, usually little need for additional backup
-Accessible from anywhere without using VPN or Remote Desktop

Cons:
-Can take a very long time to upload a lot of data.
-Some cloud providers do not have file-streaming yet, so entire data set is synced to workstations
-Data is no longer on premise – potentially less control
-Recurring monthly subscription fees
-Loss of internet may limit access to data. Also, clouds sometimes go down

Ultimately, for this particular client, we chose option #3. The other two options are certainly still viable, but it just depends on the environment and situtation. In our next blog post we will discuss our journey with option #3 and share our findings, and challenges, in going down that route.

IT Infrastructure