Practically overnight, organizations have been required to shift to a fully remote workforce. Companies that have a NAS or file server in their office as their primary file storage strategy find themselves struggling to provide a better user experience for employees accessing files from home.
What do we mean when we say “better experience”? From countless customer discussions over the past two weeks, regarding remote access for distributed teams, key requirements equate to:
These happen to be the exact tenets we had when designing LucidLink, and here’s why.
TL;DR – if you just want the Guide to putting your own data in the cloud for immediate, streaming access for everyone, anywhere, here it is.
Public clouds are some of the best-run data centers
Let’s face it; the cloud is just another data center. However, most data centers pale in comparison to the level of scale, bandwidth, automation, and monitoring that public clouds have in place. When there is a failure or some other glitch that requires human intervention, you can bet that it will be attended to quickly. The last thing any company wants to deal with during the current “work-from-home” mandates is making someone from IT drive into the office to kick a file server in the guts or reboot a router!
Consolidating your data in the cloud in a kind of hub and spoke design simply makes sense.
Disrupting workflows kills efficiency
We all have enough distractions and disruptions working from home. Learning a new tool, or fundamentally changing the workflow for a team collaborating on a common set of data adds to the problem and leads to unsanctioned workarounds and poor user acceptance.
In other words, if your users are used to going to the D: drive for a folder structure, it would be best if the only change they need to make is going to the L: drive instead.
“Can you migrate my group to that new, fast file server?”
That was a real request received by a real IT manager after she adopted LucidLink for her marketing group. The marketing team went from accessing data hosted on a local NAS to streaming it out of the cloud, and had no idea! The new “shared drive” just performed better, whether they were in the office or at home, and that’s what mattered.
Achieving this kind of user acceptance is key, and the best way to do it is to make the changes completely transparent. In this case, no news is good news.
VPN access to NAS (or cloud gateways) doesn’t work
Let’s face it, signing into a VPN and working with file shares hosted on your office NAS is a terrible user experience. If this is what you are doing and it works fine for you, then there is no reason to read further – keep doing what you are doing as long as it works!
For most users, the latency kills the performance and makes the experience unbearable. And as we all know, a poor user experience means no user acceptance.
If you want to know more about why this doesn’t work, check out this post.
End-to-end encryption beats encryption at rest
All cloud storage that I know of encrypt data. We must acknowledge that this only occurs at rest (after the data has arrived). A quick litmus test for you: Can your file service index your data? Guess what; they can “see” into it as well. If you trust the provider completely, this may not be a concern for you, which is a decision we must all make.
It did bother us, however, and we decided to take a different approach. LucidLink encrypts data as soon as it enters the system (when the client-side application commits a write), and the data remains encrypted throughout its lifecycle. Only the customer holds the key. This means that LucidLink, or anyone else, can never “see” the data. (It also means that we cannot perform a password reset for you, so take care of your password management!)
Stream your data from the cloud
Our technology fundamentally does two things.
We packaged it in a way that presents the files in the most familiar way for most people – a directory tree of folders and subfolders with specific access for different users according to their needs and role within the organization.
You can easily re-create the same structure that your NAS or file server has (that everyone is accustomed to), and put it in the cloud where it will be universally accessible. It will appear (and more importantly, perform!) to your employees as a local disk.
No hardware required
Our solution is provided as software and sold as SaaS. Pricing starts at $10/month, a small team or workgroup can set up and begin collaborating in as little as 30 minutes.
Depending on your internet connection and amount of data you have, YMMV with regards to the initial set up and data ingest time. Also, the guide provides advice on how to automatically migrate the “hot” and “warm” data first, so that everyone can begin working right away.
If you would like to confirm whether this is a good solution for you, take a look at the step-by-step guide,and feel free to take our two week free trial for a spin.