Cloud File Server
A file server is used to centrally store files for your company. Most offices of three or more people have file servers. And the structure of this setup has been pretty similar for the past 20 years:
- A server (a computer with hardened storage, like a RAID array) is put onto the network.
- User accounts are created to access the server.
- Workstations have network drives mapped to the server.
From there, each user can use the network drive, access each others' files (given proper permissions), and store files for other people's use. This is a time-tested setup that users in an office setting are very familiar with. Applications are also accustomed to this setup. For instance, if one person has a Word document open, and a second person tries to open it, Word knows that the document is in use and will warn the user that the file is in use.
Aside from this being a piece of infrastructure that you have to maintain (which we discuss here), the main issue with this is that the file server is only accessible from within your office and while connected to your local network. This can make it very difficult to work remotely.
There are a couple of common solutions to this:
- Transfer files off the network for remote use, work on them, and then copy them back later.
- The problem with this approach is that it creates multiple "live" copies of the same files. If you copy a file to work on, and meanwhile someone else works on that file in the office, how do you manage merging your changes back together? It's an entirely manual and time-consuming process for files to diverge like this.
- Setup a VPN.
- This allows you to access the server as if you were in the office, but remotely. The challenges with this are the dual setup, that your device (like your laptop) will need one configuration for when it's in the office, and one for when it's out of the office. It also adds a layer of complexity.
HYPERION WORKS provides our cloud file server service, which gives you the same functionality of an on-premises file server, but without the need to maintain the infrastructure, and without the complexity. Your access to the file server is identical whether you're in your office, at your house, or even out of town.
Dropbox? Google Drive?
There are other services that allow you to store files in the cloud, but they are not intended to work the same way. For instance, Dropbox and Google Drive are syncing services. They are not good multi-user platforms. They're ideal for individuals who have multiple devices, and want access to their data across those devices. Syncing services cause files to diverge, where different users have different versions of the same file, and it's difficult-to-impossible to merge those files back together. This causes the computing problem known as split brain, and is very time-consuming to repair.