I was just asked if EMC Marketing had a competitive slide deck covering the differences between Windows File Services in Windows Server 2012R2 and the EMC File Portfolio of products.  Hmmm, I thought… What ARE the differences?  There are so many, I'm not sure where to start.  So let's do this: let's start with an old expression; "the mother of invention is necessity".  In this context, that means, "what was the initial set of requirements?"  Let's take a look at a potential list:

  1. Store "home" directories
  2. Store high-performance VHDx files in a Hyper-V Server Cluster
  3. Replicate advertising content (videos, PowerPoint docs, and graphics files used for placing ads in our magazines and web sites) to another site 120-miles away so they can use the unified file space
  4. Link a bunch of file servers together using DFS-R (Distributed File System - Replication) Services
  5. Store a single department's files in a single remote location
  6. Store user files so that they can access them on any mobile device anywhere in the world without using VPN

Ok… that's a diverse set of requirements.  So many use cases, but all of them using file servers to reach the goals.  What should we do?

Here's where it gets easy, but also gets interesting. By clearly defining what you need to accomplish, you can easily match needs to features or offerings.  For example: 1. Store Home Directories: how large are they?, are there capacity quotas?, are they scanned for corporate governance compliance (data that might contain credit card numbers)?, are the directories synchronized to laptops using My Documents redirection?  If all these are true, you may need the advanced features offered by an Isilon Scale Out file system. Check out Isilon Family - Big Data Storage, Scale-out NAS Storage - EMC

What about #2. Store high performance VHDx files for use in a Hyper-V Cluster?  Well, now we are in a completely different place, eh? All of a sudden we have concerns for performance, availability, clustering support, metadata handlers, snapshots, recoveries, potential replication concerns, we need to arrange VSS backups of individual files.  It's like we aren't talking about a file server anymore.  We are finding more and more customers clamoring for the advanced, scale-to-fit, extremely efficient, and trusted VNX Family - Unified Storage Hardware and Software for Midrange - EMC.

#3 - Replicated and shared file spaces have been a challenge for IT professionals since the dawn of IT.  Microsoft's Distributed File System Replication is an extremely evolved solution for highly specific use cases.  Sharing replicated file spaces is a tricky task, Windows Server 2012R2 delivers a unique and highly optimized set of tools to allow small sets a data to be replicated among sites efficiently.  There are complex setup steps, but Virtualizing your Windows File Servers can ease management headaches and reduce costs!  Our paper on Microsoft Private Clouds is great starting place for your journey. http://www.emc.com/collateral/whitepaper/h11228-management-integration-cloud-wp.pdf  Likewise, #4, specifically calls for DFS-R -- EMC technologies, when working WITH Microsoft technologies will lower costs, reduce downtime, reduce support issues, and allow you to reach your business goals faster.

#5 -- Store a single departments files in a single location? This is one of the requirements that can go in so many directions because it seems as if the requirement is simple.  The problem here is latent -- it doesn't present itself at first.  At first blush, you might think, "hey, no problem: stick a VM out at the remote office.  Back it up with Avamar - Backup and Recovery, Data Deduplication - EMC , and I'm done.  Maybe you are, maybe you're not.  What if the remote location has power issues, physical security issues, the staff constantly deletes files and needs point-in-time recoveries routinely?  The simple problem just consumed your week.  EMC knows that these little "ankle biter issues" are detailers for IT shops. Handling remote file usage has become the bane of so many IT shops and IT managers.  EMC sees that there is more to remote file access than placing a VM at a remote location; that's why we introduced leading technologies to assist you and your users get what they want when they want it.  My ol' pal Paul Galjan has posted an article to get you thinking about the possibilities: http://flippingbits.typepad.com/blog/2014/05/mobilize-sharepoint-with-syncplicity.html

#6.  Access anywhere files.  Oddly, sometimes Dropbox just isn't good enough.  That's why EMC launched Syncplicity.  Please take a moment to see all you can do for your increasing group of remote and mobile users. Features

The summary to all this is that File doesn't mean File Server anymore.  It means storage.  Every storage scenario is different and that's why EMC has a proud portfolio of offerings.  Not just services, not just products, not just software.  EMC has become the answer to an ever increasing number of questions and scenarios.  Thanks for reading.