Friday, October 07, 2005

Centralized Shared File Access

One of the nagging requests we've received of late is from a certain group of users we have around the country. There are pockets of these users that use a vertical application, and since there's no database server, the files they work with are very large. Worse yet, the values in each file are derived from a central "knowledgebase" or "standard" - altering the standard affects the values in each file on which they're based.

This group has requested that we develop a centralized location for this standard, and further allow them to centrally share these files. Given their size, and the fractional-T1 frame relay links we have connecting locations, the request has not been feasible.

However, I've recently read of a technology that may have some applicability here. We use NetWare and Nterprise Branch Office, which does provide sync capabilities via RSYNC. RSYNC doesn't provide for an elegant solution, nor one that is capable of resolving write collisions. Furthermore, the 'solution' should be transparent to our end-user community - a consistent standard we set for ourselves when improving on or replacing technologies.

The iServer solution from Tacit Networks however, appears that it may largely solve the problem for us. It lacks eDirectory integration, but it very intelligently handles file synchronization and caching over WANs in an appliance footprint. It's caching and sync engines are very intelligently designed, and they advertise functionality & performance that are LAN-like over WAN links. This will be a product I continue to investigate and watch.

If it weren't for ComputerWorld, I might not know this company existed. If you can only subscribe to and read one industry publication on IT, ComputerWorld should probably be it.

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