07 June 2022
Barely a week goes by without web outages or ransomware exploits while for many organisations, the dust has barely settled on the overnight shift to hybrid working. Add to this uncertainty the audacity of cyber-attacks and it is small wonder that IT teams are continually having to rethink their defences, storage capacity planning, and approaches to disaster recovery to protect their critical data assets.
Before the pandemic, around one in three firms were reporting data loss from external attacks while a recent survey of UK and other countries’ companies found nearly half had been breached twice in the last year because of vulnerable applications. Separate research suggests that data breaches are 4.5 times more likely at end-user endpoints than back end servers.
But amid these seismic and unpredictable changes, cloud file storage platforms are achieving break-out status as they prove their worth in four key areas: recovering from attacks, enabling better collaboration, driving down storage management costs and transforming IT professionals’ disaster recovery planning.
First, cloud native storage are standardising information worldwide. As a result, teams in enterprise or distributed workforces can better collaborate on the same datasets or enterprise applications, irrespective of their location or as they expand in new regions or markets. In a recent case, a global engineering firm replaced its data silos with a global cloud storage and file system to simplify teams’ collaboration on big design files. These remote workers now access a virtual global office with LAN-speed access to the same files as colleagues, accelerating project work and delivery times.
Cutting management costs
Second, despite C-level executives’ concerns over the amount they have spent on technology to get their business through the pandemic, cloud file storage platforms are helping cut costs for IT teams struggling to manage mountains of unstructured data. Using these platforms, IT teams are reducing storage process costs because they can eradicate unnecessary copies of data without undermining their ability to recover quickly from outages or cyber-attacks.
In the UK, a third sector organisation adopted a cloud-native global file system to standardise information for 1,500 employees. Staff still have fast access to files, whether working or flexibly while the IT team has done away with time-consuming replication of workflow data or providing backups to its secondary data centre.
Where companies resume expansion as the pandemic starts to recede, cloud-native file storage enables storage teams to add file space for new or repurposed offices without having to calculate precise storage needs and costs. As a result, growth companies can respond more flexibly to customer and staffing needs in the new economy.
Mitigating security threats, simpler DR planning
Third, cloud-native file storage’s fast recovery capabilities are transforming companies’ resilience when faced by attacks and the likelihood that file restoration and recovery could be a repeated – or even a regular – event in the emerging economy. As ransomware attacks becoming increasingly sophisticated, IT teams need faster recovery from attacks but many of them are still reliant on on-premises file sharing infrastructures with mandated system failovers and duplicates required for key locations or co-located DR facilities. These arrangements are costly to run and worse, take up a lot of team resources when the company has to green light its cyber-attack recovery plan.
In contrast to this traditional thinking, cloud-native storage platforms save multiple versions of documents in progress to ensure that critical data is protected. Where file systems are affected by outages or attacks, storage teams can roll operations back to the point immediately preceding any incident to efficiently recover data. Files can be reconstituted with uncorrupted data for each virtual appliance for a nimble attack response.
In a striking case, an international company with a distributed workforce saw fluctuating data volumes at its European offices and soon realised that they were under ransomware attack. Because the IT teams had file share status for every five minutes based on continuous file versioning, it was able to organise main file system restoration in a matter of minutes and access audit trails for pin-point post-attack damage assessment.
Fourth, cloud file storage is helping networking and IT teams rethink disaster recovery planning and speed up scenario testing. In contrast, on-premises–focused organizations’ scope for local DR testing and improvement of recovery plans has been held back ever since the pandemic and its resulting upheavals. Where attacks happen, organisations with on-premises infrastructures can find that post-attack recovery can take days, even weeks – with extended recovery costs easily exceeding those of the original incident. Cloud storage’s flexible options are turning business continuity and DR planning into a more manageable task when IT resources are tight.
Flexibility for the new economy
Cloud-native storage is coming of age, not only because of its rapid incident response and data recovery capabilities, but also its ability to improve organisations’ collaboration, file storage capacity planning, business continuity testing, and cut storage maintenance costs.