Move off On-Prem File Servers to Unlock New Capability and Cost Savings

While there continues to be (limited) debate about on-premises file servers and cloud file storage, the fight is over, and the cloud has won. If you are still in doubt, take a few minutes to review the limitations and costs of on-premises file servers as well as the benefits of cloud file servers. 

Limitations of On-Premises File Shares

Insecure locations for storage

On-premises file servers are often stored in spare rooms in an office. It is common to find on-premises file servers in coat closets and copy rooms. These lack the protections that are de rigueur for cloud file storage (e.g., physical security, 24×7 monitoring, data encryption, two-factor authentication, intrusion prevention systems).

Heightened risk of data loss

With on-premises file servers, data is stored and backed up on internal servers. In the event of a disaster (e.g., flood, fire, theft) that impacts the facility where the file server resides, data could be permanently lost if the system is damaged or destroyed.  Historically, this risk has been managed by rotating tapes to offsite storage or simply using a cloud repository as a backup. However, these solutions add additional cost.

Security challenges

When on-premises file servers are used for storage, internal IT teams are responsible for security. However, in most cases, these teams lack the security expertise and resources needed to provide protection that is as robust and effective as what is delivered by cloud file server providers. This includes everything from encryption and firewalls to access controls and monitoring systems.

Limited data backup

While some organizations that use on-premises file servers have some form of off-site backup, not all data is included in many cases. Because of costs, only portions of data are saved off-site. This leaves other data at risk if there is a device malfunction, ransomware, or another disaster that damages the on-premises server. 

Inability to scale quickly

On-premises file servers are difficult to scale rapidly, requiring new hardware and IT resources to build, test, and deploy the new systems. This is costly and time-consuming. The resulting delays can negatively affect an organization, inhibiting it from reacting quickly to changing needs.

Difficulty with compliance

Most organizations are subject to some compliance requirements, and even the less stringent ones prove difficult for non-experts to manage. With on-premises file servers, systems must continually be adjusted to stay on top of changing rules. Failing to comply with regulations puts organizations at risk for fines and other penalties. 

Lack of mobility

With an on-premises file server, remote access to your documents and data requires a VPN for secure access, which increases IT complexity and operational costs. In addition, a burst of users trying to access files from the on-premises file server can overwhelm VPN systems and create delays for users who need information.  

Costs Associated with On-Premises File Servers

Setting up an on-premises file-sharing system requires capital investment for the equipment as well as for setting up a space with the appropriate power, climate controls, and security. In addition, special software is required for users to access the on-premises file servers, and VPN capabilities need to be set up for secure connections. 

There are also costs for managing on-premises systems. IT resources are required not just to set these systems up, but also to provide users support and stay on top of updates, repairs, replacements, and manage backups. 

Costs related to on-premises file servers—at a glance
Direct costs
  • Hardware (e.g., physical servers, cables, spare parts)
  • Off-site backups
  • Security tools 
  • Software 
  • Storage 
  • User support 
  • Various licenses
  • Warranties
Indirect or hidden costs
  • Climate control systems
  • Compensation for IT teams
  • Cost of downtime  
  • Depreciation of the hardware and software
  • Disaster recovery systems
  • Powering servers 24/7
  • Set up, configuration, and ongoing upgrade costs for servers and networks
  • Storage space used for the servers

Advantages of Cloud File Storage

Good news! Cloud file storage is a great alternative to on-premises file servers. This purpose-built solution has been designed specifically to solve the problems associated with on-premises file servers. Below are several of the many benefits of using cloud file storage.

Adherence to compliance regulations 

Cloud file storage providers have teams with compliance certifications and expertise in key industries, such as healthcare, government (e.g., federal, state, local, international), finance, education, manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals. Most also provide reporting to support compliance audits.  

Secure access from any device at any location  

Administrators can set up and enforce access controls according to organizations’ policies. Users can access files, based on permissions, from an office desktop, mobile device, or laptop, regardless of location.  

Enhanced security and data breach protection

With cloud file storage, physical and virtual security is provided and managed by a team of experts with access to the latest solutions. Because of economies of scale, cloud file storage providers have teams of cybersecurity professionals dedicated to monitoring and updating all systems to quickly identify and mitigate threats as well as protect against vulnerabilities. Among the many security systems that are provided with a cloud file storage service are:

  • Access control  
  • Application security
  • Continuous validation
  • Data redundancy
  • Encryption for data in transit and at rest
  • Firewalls
  • Intrusion detection
  • Mass file deletion protection 
  • Network security
  • Physical security 
  • Suspicious activity monitoring 
  • Threat monitoring
Managed backup and recovery

Cloud file storage providers have proven systems and processes to manage backup and recovery. This ensures protection from data loss, because they offer built-in redundancy, failover, and automatic backups.

No capital and facilities costs
With cloud file storage, there are no upfront capital expenses. The initial, large investment to purchase and install equipment is eliminated. In addition, the facilities-related costs associated with running on-premises file servers, such as cooling, floor space, and electricity to run the servers, are not required.
Unbeatable scalability

Cloud file storage allows organizations to scale nearly instantly based on changing needs. Scaling can sometimes be automated to optimize resource consumption and costs.  

Cloud File Storage: The Better Choice

Modern organizations should have a file server system that is purpose-built for contemporary requirements. Antiquated on-premises file servers need to be mothballed or used for archives.

Cloud file storage is designed from the ground up to support the requirements of today’s organizations and distributed users. It also gives organizations the agility to adapt to the changing needs of today’s workforce quickly.

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Author
David Buster

Senior Manager, Security and Governance; Product Marketing

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