Why You Should Replace Your File Server With SharePoint

June 8, 2022

Everything we know is currently undergoing massive transformations, including the workplace. These days, working from home is the new normal for many employers and employees.

This new way of working is made possible thanks to the capabilities of new technology, and the huge push to shift to a different working model due to the Coronavirus Pandemic that started in 2020. If you were asked 5 years ago if you thought you might be working from home in 2022, could you believe it to be true?

With all of these changes, especially when it comes to business technologies, it isn’t hard to miss new opportunities to optimize your business. There is a lot of noise out there from vendors touting their new solutions.

Where is a good place to start?

Most businesses have or plan to make the shift to either Google Workspace or Microsoft 365 to enable their workers to work from anywhere. But that’s just the first step. In this blog article, we will be addressing your file server and how you can utilize SharePoint (which comes with your Microsoft 365 license) as a file server.

Is SharePoint Better Than A Server?

A traditional file server in an organization is attached to the network that provides a location for shared storage of files. These files can only be accessed by the workstations on the network. File servers are commonly used in organizations where users need a central repository to store their files and to share their files with others on the network.

A typical file server on a business network

Your employees likely create files and store them on your file server every day. This technology is not new and has been a standard practice since the early 1990’s. Considering it’s been over 30 years since this technology’s inception, now is the perfect time to address why this method might not be working for businesses today.

This technology works well in the settings of a physical office where all employees come in and can directly connect to their business network every day. But these days, some employees are mobile and can’t get to their desktop to access those files.

With the transformation of cloud storage capabilities, especially in Microsoft 365, it’s time to consider replacing your on-premises file server and utilizing SharePoint.

Downsides Of Having A File Server

There are many reasons to consider replacing your file server, including:

+ Maintenance on the server is constant

This includes scheduling downtime for updates and hiring personnel to constantly monitor the server for any possible breaches or cyberattacks, and handle employee requests for IT support if there are any other issues.

+ Backup cost is higher

This includes scheduling downtime for updates and hiring personnel to constantly monitor the server for any possible breaches or cyberattacks, and handle employee requests for IT support if there are any other issues.

+ You have to replace the hardware every 5-7 years

Servers typically have a shelf life of 5-7 years. Most major manufacturers stop selling or supporting a particular server model after 5 years. Also, the operating system would no longer be supported.

+ Expansion is costly

Expansion is costly because if you run out of space or decide to upgrade your hardware or add-on to your hardware to accommodate the increase in data then you may have to either rip and replace your current server or add on additional hardware. This requires a lot more work than just adding storage in the cloud. Storage in the cloud is a lot more scalable.

+ Limited feature sets when it comes to collaboration

Usually there is nothing else running on a file server besides the file repository, limiting your user’s capability to do things like real-time collaboration, and share documents with customers or partners outside of the organization.

+ Limited feature sets when it comes to DLP

Protecting your data from accidental deletions to malicious individuals is a constant concern. In order to enforce the permissions to download, copy, share, distribute can be restricted by using DLP. However, to get the same DLP features that come with SharePoint, you would need to add an expensive third-party software and implement that solution to get Data Loss Prevention capabilities.

How SharePoint Replaces a File Server

In the early days of the data center-centric model SharePoint was originally designed to be an organization’s on-premises intranet. However, with the explosive growth of the cloud and cloud-based tools such as Office 365, SharePoint has evolved to not only offer the on-premises SharePoint solutions but also the cloud-based SharePoint Online service that stores and manages company data in a way that makes employee collaboration and sharing streamlined and intuitive.

In either regard, from a user’s perspective, they will not even notice the difference whether the files they are accessing are from a local drive, an on-premises SharePoint folder or a SharePoint Online mapped network drive. From the file explorer, using SharePoint just looks like another file server.

File Server created using SharePoint

From a technical perspective, replacing a file server with SharePoint is quite straightforward. Microsoft offers a dedicated migration tool called the SharePoint Migration Tool that facilitates the entire migration process. In doing so, documents, the file and folder structure, user-level and file-level permissions, files (under 15GB) and sites, documents and metadata will all be moved seamlessly.

For more entailed migrations, it’s valuable for an organization to work with a third-party IT Consulting Service to ensure a smooth migration of data.

SharePoint Capabilities and Features

Here is just a small list of the capabilities and features found in SharePoint over a traditional file server:

  • Modern search capabilities - Find the files you need with the search box that can show relevant content and is mobile friendly. Get more information about SharePoint search.
  • Access from mobile devices - You can access your files and documents from anywhere when you set up Microsoft 365 on your mobile device.
  • Management of permissions is easier for administrators - It's as easy as using the admin console to properly manage and administer any permissions or security settings.
  • Ability to share files and folders with organizations outside of your company - Your users can control file permissions and share files with partners, vendors, or even customers.
  • Create Workflows - Workflows can be used to manage common business processes within an organization by enabling you to use business logic with documents or items in your library. Business logic is a set of instruction that specifies and controls the actions that happen to a document or item. Learn more about workflows.

Cons of SharePoint As A File Server

Cost of storage

1TB + 10GB per license purchased comes with your M365 business licenses, not to exceed 25 TB per site. Depending on your storage usage/needs, this may not be enough storage. You may also add-on more storage if needed. This cost must be factored in when deciding if this solution will be for you. For current information on SharePoint storage limits, visit the link here.

Last updated 5/26/2022

You're at the mercy of the provider

Sometimes cloud service providers implement big changes, like increasing their pricing from time to time. Because of this unpredictability, it is hard to foresee these changes, but they do happen and at that point you are at the mercy of the provider. On a positive note, there is usually a notification period, where you will get prior notice to these changes.

There’s a growing trend emerging from the digital transformation - organizations that leverage technology to improve business processes, deliver better goods and services, and make more meaningful business decisions will outpace organizations that do not. Plain and simple.

For organizations looking to take advantage of the rich offering of digital transformation, migrating to SharePoint is a great place to start. Aside from some of the benefits listed in this piece, simply migrating to a platform that supports more meaningful collaboration, intuitive document sharing, enhanced security, seamless scalability and streamlined integration with other Microsoft solutions such as Office365, can catapult an organization into a higher gear of efficiency in its operations.

If you’re ready to take the next step in migrating from your fileserver to SharePoint, consider reaching out to the talented team here at Techmedics. From facilitating migrations to providing comprehensive project management and infrastructure design, we’ll work with you every step of the way to ensure your organization is capitalizing on the tremendous value of today’s business technology solutions.

Get in touch with Techmedics

Our engineers can help your business with network infrastructure technology. Let us know about your next IT-related project or managed IT services contract. Contact us today or learn more about our services.

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