If you run a multisite network, one of the most irritating problems to deal with is handling large amounts of distributed file-sharing data. The simplest and most often used solution is to place file servers or NAS devices at each site to handle local file sharing duties. But this has serious drawbacks.
First, you have to deal with protecting the data at those sites -- often involving error-prone remote-site backup solutions or bandwidth-heavy WAN-backup schemes. Next, you need to deal with user complaints about file sharing performance when they have to pull their data over the WAN. There are roll-your-own solutions available to deal with these issues, such as using Microsoft's DFS-R (Distributed File System Replication), but these tend to be fairly complex -- and generally deal with either the data protection or data availability/portability problem, but not both.
Recently, I got a chance to take a quick look at a cloud-based product designed to solve both problems: Nasuni's Data Continuity Service. The Natick, Mass.-based startup has been offering a cloud-backed NAS gateway for quite a while and recently added the ability to make a single volume available to multiple sites simultaneously. Though it's not without its own limitations, Nasuni's innovative use of cloud-based storage to provide multisite access to unstructured data may be a light at the end of the tunnel for those struggling with the challenges of multisite file sharing and data protection.