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Author: Simon Hudson
Simon is one of the founding directors at Cloud2

What about the humble file - there’s more to life than documents

This is effectively Part Three in a series of blogs on managing content across the organisation, as part of moving to a cloud. I’ve previously mused on Microsoft Teams and Office 365 Groups, as well as the complex issue of ‘Putability’.

What about the humble file - there’s more to life than documents

It’s easy to think that covers everything, but every organisation has huge quantities of legacy content which can’t or shouldn’t be placed in a modern content management system. You can legitimately think about these being files and folders stored on a file server, with this commonly being mounted against a Storage Area Network (SAN).

As organisations either commit fully to the cloud and seek to remove their existing local servers, or are faced with having to upgrade their SAN yet again because of growing data volumes, they are often strongly tempted to offload some of this into their Office 365 cloud storage. There is a whole article on effective migration strategies, content cleansing etc. which should be the subject of a future blog. For now, I want to consider a much simpler problem of whether you should migrate legacy content and if so, to where.

Chances are you’ve found a file in your file share! It’s probably buried deep in a set of folders. There’s probably a 50% chance that it’s out of date, duplicated multiple times and has no obvious or existing owner. It’s almost guaranteed that any metadata that happens to be attached to it is wrong. It won’t be alone; tens of thousands of other documents in a similar state, each consuming expensive tier 1 storage. Something must be done!

You have three choices; and you should choose wisely:

Do you need to share this file or document on an ongoing basis with colleagues in your organisation? If not, it’s probably a legacy file or document that no one actively needs.

Ask yourself if it needs to be kept at all? If not, you can delete it. If so, you need to archive it into an inexpensive storage tier. Once upon a time this could easily have been tape or a JBOD array. Today the chances are you look at something like a Microsoft Azure StorSimple appliance which will synchronise content to the cloud while leaving a file stub that makes it appear to be local to your filing system. It’s inexpensive, starting at about £1200 for the virtual appliance, plus storage at about £1200 per terabyte per year, which includes full redundancy etc.

If it does need to be shared, then it is probably a live document and should be pushed into your digital workspace, the trouble is that not everything can be stored in SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business etc. Some file types may be blocked (.exe, .aspx, .jar etc.) or have disallowed filename characters (” * : < > ? / \ |), while others, such as video, CAD drawings, disc images and MSI files, are just too big to comfortably move there. You may have to leave these on a file server or a cloud equivalent; luckily such content tends to be relatively small in quantity and often has a reasonably effective taxonomy which can be managed using a directory structure. Once again, an option like StorSimple will allow you to move this to low-cost storage while retaining access and control.

As I said, it’s pretty simple. It’s even simpler when you can see it as a diagram.

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