Smart caching: An agile strategy for data-intensive businesses

A circle of laptops connected to a cloud symbol.
(Image credit: Shutterstock/Bluebay)

The widespread shift to remote working has significantly accelerated the adoption of cloud-based infrastructure and services. In April 2020 for instance, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella provided some powerful insight when he said his company had seen “two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” In the context of a technology trend already seeing huge levels of investment worldwide, this is another huge step forward.

About the author

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

In the public cloud sector alone, Gartner has recently predicted that end-user spending on cloud computing services worldwide will grow 23.1% in 2021 to total $332.3 billion, up from $270 billion in 2020. In its analysis, Gartner stated that, “The events of last year allowed CIOs to overcome any reluctance of moving mission critical workloads from on-premises to the cloud . . . even absent the pandemic there would still be a loss of appetite for data centers.”

For some organizations, this has brought their entire on-premises IT strategy into question and the option of going ‘all in’ with an approach based fully around the cloud is an increasingly attractive alternative. As the service provider market has matured and become more competitive, barriers to adoption have gradually disappeared and many tech teams are building increasingly sophisticated strategies.

Organizations that have been strongly wedded to traditional on-premises IT infrastructure models have discovered that cloud computing offers a versatile, powerful and affordable option, and the experiences of the last 18 months have been key to their long term technology infrastructure planning.

Despite the many advantages of cloud, however, there remain a range of circumstances where an on-premises or hybrid approach that combines the best of local and cloud capabilities is still the best option. For instance, organizations that rely on large data volumes such as those in the media and construction sectors often need the versatility that a mixed approach provides. Similarly, there are numerous situations where businesses and their teams are relatively ‘off grid’ from a data connectivity point of view, meaning fast, reliable internet services can’t be guaranteed, such as the situations seen on building sites or in temporary offices.

In these use cases, organizations must still deliver effective services that meet the needs of users and customers alike. Take data backup and protection, for example, where replicating cloud data in on-premises execution venues can help ensure businesses always have access to critical data, no matter what challenges they face.

Taking hybrid cloud to the next level

The options don’t end there, however. Taking the hybrid cloud concept a stage further, smart caching is an approach that optimizes on-premises storage by automatically identifying files to cache based on business-driven policies. The process also removes files that are no longer relevant for users based on changing priorities and needs, and this cleanses files that are no longer needed or seldom accessed to make space for new ones.

This not only reduces the number of times files need to be retrieved from the cloud, while the use of advanced data caching algorithms helps maximize the speed and efficiency of content delivery, while also improving the user experience. Think of it this way - while music streaming services provide content on demand, many people also like to retain permanent copies of their favorite tracks so they can access them whenever and wherever they are.

In practical terms, imagine the situation faced by users working in resource-hungry industries, such as media and construction. For these people, using media editing software or construction tools hosted in public clouds on a daily basis depends on having reliable access to files and data. These specialized applications also need to deliver effective access to large data volumes or even specific byte-ranges within a large file.

In many current situations, these file requests are supported on public clouds, and a hybrid solution deployed within a public cloud would provide the SMB protocol needed for these specialized applications. But by using a smart cache, the cloud is brought closer to the user with the result that their key applications, files, data and permissions are more readily accessible.

Another benefit of this approach is that it can also help organizations significantly reduce network traffic by cutting hit rates for cached files, and keeping local storage to a minimum. In addition, it takes the guesswork out of local caching and by reducing administrative overheads it helps admins focus on more strategic activities.

These are important considerations. As businesses everywhere refine their long term remote and hybrid working policies, it becomes more important than ever that they develop their technology infrastructure to support the efficiency and productivity of workers wherever they are based. For some, an ‘all-in’ cloud platform offers the ideal solution, while for others, a hybrid solution using smart caching is a more effective route for delivering the performance and flexibility needed in today’s demanding work environments.

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