Why smart caching can unlock effective remote working across even the most data-hungry industries

Andrew Martin, Senior Sales & Marketing Director EMEA & Managing Director UK at Egnyte, argues that while “pure” cloud platforms are a good fit for some, many businesses – like those working with media-editing software, construction point-clouds or DNA sequence analysers – seek a hybrid approach.


This is a contributed article by Andrew Martin, Senior Sales & Marketing Director EMEA & Managing Director UK at Egnyte

We take a lot in life for granted these days, but when the things we really depend on suddenly become unavailable for any reason, it doesn’t take long before the panic sets in. When that happens, irrational behaviour often follows shortly behind, as we clamour to find the fastest/easiest solution to the challenge faced. For a great example of this, look no further than the panic buying that took place amidst the first COVID-19 lockdown in the UK. Toilet paper, rice, pasta, eggs, hand soap and many more all became rare commodities for a brief period as people bought up huge quantities at any opportunity, often at highly inflated prices.

The same thought processes often apply in the business world. For instance, say a remote working employee needs to access a large file in order to work on a time sensitive project, but the file in question is stored at their employer’s on-premises server. Rather than try and deal with an archaic VPN connection or slow home internet speeds, they quickly start looking for a faster/easier alternative way to access the files, whether that be driving to the office, using USB sticks, or shadow IT solutions etc.

On-premises solutions still have their place (for now)

Given the events of the past 18 months and the unprecedented move to remote working, you’d be forgiven for wondering why any business would still want to stick with on-premises solutions. However, while switching to “pure” cloud platforms is a great solution for some businesses, there are many others - such as those working with large volumes of media or construction files, where a hybrid approach can be much more beneficial.

Furthermore, a lot of businesses feel it’s prudent to have a ‘Plan B’ in the event of internet disruption that would otherwise bring their operations to a halt without any form of local storage to fall back on. There’s also a wide range of workplaces where fast, reliable internet access can’t be guaranteed, such as building sites or temporary offices. For these kinds of businesses, a solution that centralises data in the cloud whilst also replicating it on-premises is a sensible way to ensure consistent business operations in all eventualities.

Taking it a step further

Smart Caching takes the hybrid-cloud concept a step further, optimising on-premises storage by automatically identifying files to cache based on business-driven policies and evicting files that are no longer relevant for users. As time goes by and business priorities change, the cache is periodically cleansed of less accessed files to make space for new ones, helping reduce the number of calls needed to the cloud. The smart cache also applies advanced data caching algorithms to optimise content delivery at any location, boosting speed, efficiency and overall user experience. A great way to think of it is like keeping a collection of your favourite albums in your house, along with using a subscription to Spotify. While the streaming platform will serve your needs most of the time, on the rare occasion it goes down or can’t be accessed, all of your most frequently listened to music will still be readily available to you.

Applying this to a real-world situation, consider a user that operates applications on a daily basis that are automated and resource-hungry, such as media-editing software or construction point-clouds hosted in public clouds. Naturally, they are concerned with access requirements to business content and applications, but their specialised applications also need guaranteed quick access to large data volumes and even access to specific byte-ranges within a large file. Traditionally, these file requests would need to be supported on public clouds, and a hybrid solution deployed within a public cloud would provide the SMB protocol needed for these specialised applications. By using a smart cache, the cloud is brought closer to the user, meaning access to their most-used applications, associated files and permissions is both easier and more efficient.

Adopting a smart cache approach can help businesses reduce network traffic by significantly cutting hit rates for cached files, as well as keeping local storage to a minimum. It also takes the guesswork out of local caching, reducing administrative overheads and enabling admins to focus on more strategic activities. With the exponential growth in remote working looking set to remain for the foreseeable future, businesses that fail to address the challenges of on-premises data storage will soon find themselves falling behind in terms of business efficiency and productivity. While a “pure” cloud platform may be the answer for some, a hybrid and smart cache solution offers more flexibility to those needing to meet the evolving demands of modern work environments, but aren’t willing/able to migrate fully.

Andrew Martin is Senior Sales Director EMEA & Managing Director UK at Egnyte.

He has worked in the content and security technology field for over 25 years. In his current role, he is responsible for driving the sales across Commercial and Enterprise business providing a platform for management and governance of all unstructured data across a business.