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Looking to Collaborate Across Offices, Cloudnas vs Azure File Sync

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August 22, 2018
Looking to Collaborate Across Offices, Cloudnas vs Azure File Sync

Sharing and syncing files at multiple locations is a very common business need. Hybrid cloud storage solutions are a natural fit to facilitate this and have become increasingly popular, prompting several vendors to develop offerings to their customers in an attempt to capture a share of this emerging market. Microsoft is no exception, now offering Azure File Sync as an extension on top of Azure File storage.  But while Microsoft certainly has enviable brand name recognition and install base. Azure File Sync may be a poor fit for many businesses due to its relatively high price, management complexity, and technical limitations. While the complexity may not be a significant issue for larger enterprises with a full IT staff, small and midsize businesses may find the multiple deployment steps, numerous components to manage and maintain, and required technical expertise to be daunting and exorbitantly expensive.

Cost

Azure costs start with a purchase price that is more than three times the price of equivalent solutions. In addition to this purchase price, Microsoft charges file upload and download fees, which can add up to a significant monthly recurring cost. But an arguably more important cost consideration is the on-going management of Azure File Sync, which requires a highly-skilled IT resource with expertise in Microsoft Azure and Microsoft PowerShell. With the shortage in IT talent, this resource can be prohibitively expensive for many organizations.

Complexity

Another important consideration is the complexity of deploying and managing Azure File Sync. While Microsoft touts the benefits of its integration with Azure environments, achieving that integration may not be quite as simple as you think.

Here are just some of the steps necessary to deploy the solution:

  • Create an Azure storage account and an Azure file share.
  • Check to make sure your Azure storage account and your Azure file share are in the same region.
  • Make sure you have at least one supported instance of Windows Server or Windows Server Cluster to sync with Azure File Sync.
  • Ensure that PowerShell 5.1 is installed on your Windows Server.
  • Install and configure the AzureRM PowerShell module on every server you want to use with Azure File Sync – and make sure you use the correct version, because not all PowerShell versions are supported.
  • Disable Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration on every server that you will use with Azure File Sync, including each server node in a Failover Cluster. It’s important to note that this configuration requires multiple steps.
  • Prepare Windows Server to use with Azure File Sync. Again, many steps are involved here, including:
    • Installing the Azure File Sync agent
    • Deploying the Storage Sync Service
    • Registering Windows Server with Storage Sync Service
    • Creating a sync group and a cloud endpoint
    • Creating a server endpoint
  • On-board files to Azure File Sync (many steps!).
  • Migrate your DFS Replication (DFS-R) deployment to Azure File Sync (many steps!).
  • Finally, if you wish to use multi-office sync, you need to go through the process of initiating it. And if any of those offices are in a different country, you will have to configure the local servers to connect with the closest version of each of the file shares.

 

Technical Limitations

It’s important to understand that, despite its name, Azure File Sync is actually only standard file replication. There’s no continuous file sync involved; a change detection job is scheduled to run every 24 hours. When the change detection job determines that files have changed, Azure File Sync initiates a sync session.  As such, any new or modified data throughout the day remains at risk until the scheduled sync. Microsoft warns some syncs may take longer “For large namespaces, it might take longer than once every 24 hours to determine which files have changed.” [Ref: Azure File Sync FAQ] And since there’s no continuous synchronization of files throughout the day, there’s no file locking for proper version control and to avoid data loss when one user deletes or overwrites an existing file.

Azure File Sync also some restrictive limits depending on desired applications and cannot sync small files: [Ref: Azure File Sync scale targets]

  • Endpoint maximum size – 4 TB
  • File size maximum – 100GB
  • Minimum file size for a file to be tiered – 64KB

 

A Better Way with CloudNAS

Morro believes IT should be simple. The Morro Data CloudNAS is a hybrid cloud storage solution that solves all of these challenges of file sync for real-time collaboration.

CloudNAS Cost

The monthly storage price starts as low as 1/3rd the price of Azure storage, and does not include additional file upload or download fees  In addition, there are no software or additional tools to install and configure and does not require highly-skilled IT resource with expertise in Microsoft Azure and Microsoft PowerShell to administer the system making CloudNAS significantly less expensive than Azure File Sync.

CloudNAS Simplicity

With its appliance format, CloudNAS was designed for simplicity.  At each location you simply connect a CacheDrive and add any shares you want. There’s no need to manage, maintain, or even touch the device – all data is synced directly to the cloud in real-time by default. Scheduled sync can be configured if preferred. It works across multiple international locations without any special tools or additional configuration. This means that there’s nothing to maintain or configure in each local office, saving you administrative and management costs on a continuous basis.

Technical Enhancements

CloudNAS uses  Cache & Sync technology which caches files in the CacheDrive and automatically performs sync in the background, using your regular broadband connection. CloudNAS also employs file locking and versioning to keep your data safe from user error.  All files can be immediately and continuously accessed by multiple users at LAN speeds. File size is only limited by the storage capacity of the CacheDrive, which comes in a range of sizes or as a Virtual Machine with up to 64TB per endpoint, making it easy to store and share even large files across groups, between multiple office locations, and even with partners and vendors. Applications that generate large files include multimedia, design files, engineering and CAD, biotech and many others.

With CloudNAS, all files are accessed using a drive letter interface, making file access exactly the same as if they were stored locally. And since performance is the same as your local filesystem, your users won’t even realize that their files reside in the cloud.

Summary

With CloudNAS, you benefit from the security, convenience, scalability, and simplicity of the cloud at a price point the business can afford, while retaining the performance benefits of a local filesystem. That’s hybrid cloud done right.  And with Azure Active Directory support, CloudNAS fits right into your Office 365 environment.

To learn more about how CloudNAS compares with Azure File Sync, visit www.morrodata.com/cloudnas-vs-azure-files.

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