Is the file server dead?
Graham thinks the file server is dead, I’m not totally convinced – here’s why
before anyone starts complaining, the following lists are not intended to be complete, only illustrative, please add additional items via comments if you are so motivated.
- pretty much every application supports storing it’s file based data that way
- everyone knows how to save files
- everyone knows how to navigate a file system
- its easy to tell people where things are, or send them a UNC path
- its easy to move stuff around, copy it, rename it
- its easy to send files stored in a file system via email (drag and drop)
- search tools work well
- performance is great
- solutions are available for off-line working
- fairly easy to replicate
- well integrated with backup
- integrated with all sorts of applications
- very cheap
Of course there are loads of things wrong with file systems:
- no general purpose way to add meta data
- forces you onto one view of structure, ie only directory hierarchy
- not easy to share outside the enterprise, in a controlled way, although tools like foldershare and groove do it peer to peer through firewalls
- no workflow, or other automation
- no easy way to add comments
- no standard way to version
- only one way to group stuff – directories
When I think about tools like SharePoint, Notes etc they go some way to mitigating the weaknesses, but some of the strengths are SharePoints weaknesses. Especially:
- ease of use
- integration with all applications
- offline working
- easy integration with email
Office SharePoint 2007 continues to chip away at the advantages but I remain sceptical that the file server is dead. I have heard many people over the years claim they have a better solution but they have all failed and mainly because of the list above.
The inspiration for this post came from two excellent posts on the strengths and weaknesses of email. My conclusion after reading them was that email also was far from dead!