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Cloud File Sharing

Cloud File Storage: 4 Business Use Cases and Enterprise Solutions

What Is Cloud File Storage?

Cloud file storage is a type of cloud storage that allows organizations to store their data in the cloud and access it through shared file systems. With cloud file storage, servers and applications can access the stored data as if it were stored on local storage, providing a seamless experience for users.

Cloud file storage is particularly useful for workloads that rely on shared file systems, such as collaborative document editing or content management systems. By using cloud file storage, teams can easily share files and collaborate in real-time, without having to worry about managing the underlying storage infrastructure.

One of the main advantages of cloud file storage is its compatibility with existing applications and workflows. Unlike object storage, which requires applications to use APIs to interact with stored data, cloud file storage provides a file system interface that is familiar to most applications. This means that organizations can adopt cloud file storage without having to make significant changes to their existing code or workflows.

Cloud file storage providers typically offer features such as automatic data replication and failover, scalability, and data protection to ensure the reliability and availability of stored data. Additionally, cloud file storage can be integrated with other cloud services, such as compute instances and databases, to provide a complete storage solution for modern applications.

This is part of a series of articles about cloud file sharing.

In this article:

How Cloud File Storage Works

Cloud file storage works by storing files and folders in the cloud, which can be accessed and managed by users over the internet. Here are the basic steps involved in how cloud file storage works:

  1. Uploading files: Users can upload files and folders to the cloud file storage service using a web-based interface, desktop or mobile app, or API. The cloud file storage service typically stores these files in data centers located in various regions around the world.
  2. Storage and replication: The cloud file storage service stores the uploaded files and folders in one or more data centers, depending on the service provider's infrastructure. The service provider may also replicate the data across multiple data centers for redundancy and availability.
  3. Access and management: Once the files are uploaded to the cloud file storage service, users can access and manage them using a web-based interface, desktop or mobile app, or API. Users can perform various operations on the files, such as renaming, moving, copying, deleting, or sharing them with others.
  4. Security and encryption: Cloud file storage services typically offer robust security features to protect user data from unauthorized access or theft. These may include data encryption, access controls, and authentication mechanisms.
  5. Data transfer and retrieval: When users need to access their files, the cloud file storage service retrieves them from the data center and transfers them over the internet to the user's device. The speed of data transfer may depend on the internet connection speed and the size of the files being transferred.
  6. Scaling: Cloud file storage services can scale up or down based on demand, enabling users to store and retrieve large amounts of data without needing to invest in physical storage devices. The service provider may charge users based on the amount of storage they use, making it a cost-effective solution for storing large amounts of data.

4 Business Use Cases for Cloud File Storage

Cloud file storage is a versatile and flexible solution that can be used in a wide range of business scenarios. Here are some of the most common use cases:

Web Serving

Web servers often face heavy traffic and require high performance to serve web content quickly and efficiently. By using cloud file storage to store static files like images and videos, web servers can offload the serving of those files to the cloud, freeing up resources and reducing latency. Additionally, cloud file storage can be used to store dynamic content generated by web applications, providing a scalable and high-performance storage solution.

Content Management

Digital content is a critical asset for many businesses, and managing that content effectively is crucial for success. Cloud file storage can help organizations store, organize, and share digital content across multiple devices and locations. Content management systems (CMS) can be integrated with cloud file storage, providing a seamless experience for managing and sharing content.

Database Backups

Backing up databases is essential for protecting critical data and ensuring business continuity in the event of a disaster or system failure. Cloud file storage provides a scalable and cost-effective solution for storing database backups, allowing organizations to automate the backup process and improve data recovery times.

Storage for Containers and Serverless Applications

Containers are an increasingly popular way to build and deploy applications, but managing containerized storage can be complex. By using cloud file storage, organizations can easily share data across multiple containers and hosts, improve scalability, and reduce the risk of data loss or corruption.

Related content: Read our guide to enterprise file sharing

Best Cloud File Storage Solutions for the Enterprise

Amazon Elastic File System

Amazon Elastic File System (AWS EFS) is a scalable, fully-managed, cloud-based file storage service offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS). It provides a simple, scalable, and highly available file system that can be used by multiple Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances.

Amazon EFS is designed to provide scalable storage capacity and performance to support workloads that require high throughput and low latency access to data. It can automatically scale its storage capacity up and down as needed, without any interruption in service, and it can also automatically adjust its performance to match the needs of the workload.

Amazon EFS is a POSIX-compliant file system, which means that it supports standard file system operations and interfaces, and it can be used with a wide range of Linux-based applications and tools. It also provides a range of security features, including encryption at rest and in transit, VPC access control, and network isolation.

Related content: Read our guide to AWS file sharing

Azure Files

Azure Files is a cloud-based file storage service offered by Microsoft Azure. It provides fully managed file shares in the cloud that can be accessed and used like traditional file shares that you might use on-premises. Azure Files is built on top of the Azure Storage service, which provides a durable, highly available, and scalable storage infrastructure.

With Azure Files, you can easily store and share files across different platforms, applications, and devices. You can use the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol to access Azure Files from Windows, and NFS to access it from Linux and Unix systems. Azure Files also supports REST APIs, PowerShell, and Azure CLI, which allows you to interact with it programmatically.

Azure Files provides several features such as access control, encryption, and backup, making it suitable for various use cases such as cloud migration, application storage, and disaster recovery. Additionally, Azure Files integrates with other Azure services such as Azure Active Directory, Azure Backup, and Azure Site Recovery, which provides a seamless experience for managing and using files in the cloud.

Google Cloud Filestore

Google Cloud Filestore is a managed file storage service offered by Google Cloud Platform (GCP). It provides a fully managed, network-attached storage (NAS) service for applications that require a file system interface and a shared file system.

With Filestore, you can create highly available file shares that can be accessed from multiple Google Compute Engine instances. It supports both the NFS protocol for Linux instances and the SMB protocol for Windows instances, and integrates with GCP services like Compute Engine, Kubernetes Engine, and Cloud SQL to offer a complete storage solution.

Filestore automatically replicates your data across multiple zones for high availability and provides automatic failover in case of a zone outage. It supports data backup and restoration to help recover from accidental deletions or data corruption, and can scale up or down to meet the changing demands of your applications.

Enterprise Cloud File Sharing with NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP

NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, the leading enterprise-grade storage management solution, delivers secure, proven storage management services on AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. Cloud Volumes ONTAP capacity can scale into the petabytes, and supports various use cases such as file services, databases, DevOps, or any other enterprise workload, with a strong set of features including high availability, data protection, storage efficiencies, Kubernetes integration, and more.

In particular, Cloud Volumes ONTAP provides file services, serving NAS, including NFS, SMB / CIFS as well as ONTAP S3, iSCSI, and multiprotocol access.

Learn more about how Cloud Volumes ONTAP helps to address the challenges of file sharing in this customer case studies blog.

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Yifat Perry, Technical Content Manager

Technical Content Manager