Collaboration in a post-COVID world

Why effective data storage is key to post-COVID working models

Hand reaching towards visualisation of connected squares representing different storage and documents systems

The massive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has left no businesses unaffected. A huge swath of the workforce was sent home in March 2020 and, barring some fluctuations in restrictions over the summer, remote working has remained the new normal for many organisations ever since. It is widely expected to endure in some form or other well into the future.

This major shift in our working models has accelerated digital transformation across the board, spurring businesses to adopt new technologies and systems to power these new practices. Some of these changes are focussed on communication or cyber security – and another key aspect has been data storage, file sharing and collaboration.

Fortunately, for many organisations, file-sharing and cloud-based services will have already been adopted over recent years thanks to the convenience they offer. Sharing multiple versions of the same document over email risks chaos and confusion, with different colleagues working from the wrong file and important amendments and updates easily lost without anyone noticing. The ability for everyone to work from a single file can minimise many of these mistakes and create a much more streamlined and efficient approach to collaborative working, so it’s not hard to see why many organisations had already adopted these models.

But the pandemic transformed systems that were useful in some instances into something that is essential for almost all collaboration. Opportunities to work side by side, to cross the office and lean over your colleague’s computer or print out a document and annotate it as a group are gone. The majority of collaboration now has to take place over file-sharing and cloud-based services, which has rendered these systems invaluable.

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Of course, not all file-sharing systems in the post-COVID working world are created equal. Home workers for businesses that operated on-premises storage to power their file sharing will have seen their direct access suddenly cut off. Fortunately, there are on-premises options that allow safe and reliable remote access, and we will discuss how these compare to public cloud services.

Companies need to be especially aware under our new working models that employees are storing data and files in the right place. With workers operating at home – potentially using their own devices rather than company regulated hardware – there is a danger that sensitive files and data could be saved locally on the device itself or on a public cloud that is not accessible by the organisation. This can raise issues of compliance, and could harm your company’s reputation or even lead to fines if data is handled incorrectly. On top of this, your IT department will be unable to back up data properly if they cannot access it, and there is a risk that important information could be lost permanently if something goes wrong with the device on which it is stored.

Choosing your storage system

Cloud-based storage has become increasingly popular, and understandably so. Compared to traditional on-premises storage, it allows employees to access and collaborate on files and information from any location where they can connect to the internet, which has helped to power the emergence of more agile working practices and has been absolutely essential over the past year.

Public cloud providers offer valuable flexibility, allowing businesses to scale up or down in response to their storage requirements, which means that you won’t suddenly get caught out if you find you need extra capacity. With the hardware managed by a third-party provider, you don’t have to worry about having your IT team on hand to spring into action to tackle any faults, and backups of your data can be rolled in as part of the service.

However, public cloud isn’t the only storage that allows access by remote workers, and it isn’t the best option in every case. Network attached storage (NAS) is an on-premises option that allows remote access and offers benefits that may be very appealing to your organisation.

Relatively inexpensive, practical, and generally straightforward to deploy, NAS puts control of your storage back in your IT department’s hands. While public cloud is very flexible, costs can quickly mount up as you increase your capacity. With sufficient planning, boosting the capacity of your NAS is as easy as slotting in additional hard disks or SSDs, and at a flat cost it can work out as the cheaper alternative. Synology offers a range of NAS models – including the Plus series, XS+ Series and SA Series – as well as additional support and services to create backups and allow you to establish your own private cloud on your on-premise storage.

NAS is particularly useful for organisations dealing with large amounts of data, such as Synology customer The Media Bunker, a video production company that could be handling 2-3 shoots a week, each capturing 500GB-1TB of data. Using NAS, they were able to create a storage system that allowed for the transfer of large files, for multiple employees to work on the same video project across different sites, and easy access to data for clients when necessary, while making sure that everything was properly backed up.

As restrictions begin to lift, it is also important to remember that, as on-premise storage, NAS is particularly useful for data-intensive tasks like video editing, where the cloud will slow things down considerably.

Ultimately, we need to acknowledge that, when it comes to data storage, one size does not fit all. Public cloud and NAS both have their advantages, which means that companies are often advised to pursue a hybrid cloud approach, where the best solution is applied wherever it’s best suited. Between on-site, remote accessible NAS appliances and cloud-collaboration services, you can create the perfect combination to make sure that your employees have the access they need, wherever they are.

Get in touch with Synology to learn more

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