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File Dynamics: How Data Breaches, Ransomware, and Compliance Transformed a Network File System

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With the approaching first year anniversary of the introduction of File Dynamics, I thought I would provide some insight on why we took the Storage Manager for Active Directory product, significantly enhanced its capabilities, and gave it a more applicable name.


File Dynamics is built from a heritage of technology first introduced in 2003 known as Novell File System Factory. The product’s ability to provision and manage network storage through directory services events filled a distinctive market need – especially with Identity Manager customers. As Identity Manager would automate the provisioning of accounts and set access rights to network applications, File System Factory could simultaneously do the same at the network file system level, providing users home directories with the proper access rights.

File System Factory, which was eventually renamed to Storage Manager, became a mainstay in large organizations that had a high number of user turnover or lots of data that they needed to manage through automation. The technology is deployed in a variety of organizations in industries such as banking and finance, manufacturing, airlines, state and local government, and many others. Education accounts including K-12 and universities continue to rely on the technology to automate the provisioning and cleanup of faculty and student data each semester.

Identity-Driven Policies for Lifecycle Management

The means of performing management actions was based on Identity-Driven policies that specify what actions to take when directory services events take place.

For example, a policy in the H.R. container of an organization’s Active Directory forest could specify how much disk space should be allocated for a user home folder, the subfolders and files inside the home folder, user access permissions, disk quota, what types of files can be stored, what to do with the home folder when the user leaves the organization, and more. What’s more, the policy specifies where the data should be located and even load balance data across multiple locations.

Once a new user is added to the container or is moved or deleted from the container, the policy is enacted automatically. For even this simple example, when you factor in the costs associated in manually provisioning, moving, cleaning up, and deleting files for hundreds or tens of thousands of users, organizations have been saving a lot of money.

Maybe more importantly, Identity-Driven policies automate the lifecycle management of shared storage for groups in similar but even more powerful ways, further enabling organizations to get the most out of their network resources.

Target-Driven Policies

While Identity-Driven policies assured user and group data in the file system was managed properly, a new requirement began to emerge for the ability to apply specific elements of policy-based automation to very specific sets of data outside of the lifecycle management construct. As they began to consider this new policy-based management approach, the Storage Manager development team began to quickly recognize the powerful new capabilities that could be achieved.

Before initiating on any development work, there was some considerable time spent interviewing customers, partners, and analysts, as well as taking note of headline-blaring stories of data breaches, new privacy regulations, and ransomware. Recognizing the potential for addressing all of these challenges through policy-based management, the Storage Manager engineers embarked on the development of what would be known as Target-Driven policies – policies that would manage and perform tasks through direct association with a network share or folder, rather than through an association with Active Directory users and groups.

From Storage Manager to File Dynamics

The development team was soon demonstrating these new Target-Driven policies. For the first time ever, polices were copying, moving, grooming, and removing data from network folders not necessarily associated with a single user or group.

Furthermore, the team demonstrated the ability to protect and recover data that had become lost or corrupted as a result of a ransomware attack. Now known as Epoch Data Protection policies, this new data protection technology was detailed in a previously published article.

Today there are families of Target-Driven policies addressing business value needs such as Data Protection, Content Control, Security, and Data Location.

The dramatic expansion of management capabilities combined with a roadmap of additional security-focused Target-Driven policies warranted the introduction of a new product with a more descriptive name. The name File Dynamics signifies both change and action. While changes in security threats and resulting regulations are certain, our approach will continue to address these through automated actions via policies. In fact, we’ve got some great new policies coming this summer that address data access and security.

Analyst firms such as Gartner are now recognizing the capabilities of File Dynamics, mentioning the product in multiple recent reports.

So did File Dynamics Replace Storage Manager?

With the release of File Dynamics 6.0 in May 2018, active development of Storage Manager for Active Directory was diverted completely over to File Dynamics. Storage Manager for Active Directory is still available for purchase. Additionally, Storage Manager for OES continues to be sold and updated for OES customers.

Your Invitation to Learn More about File Dynamics

Storage Manager is great for automating the management of user and group network storage, but chances are that your network management, security, protection, and compliance requirements have become much more advanced. Fortunately, File Dynamics is available today to help you address those requirements.

The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of Micro Focus. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation. Certain versions of content ("Material") accessible here may contain branding from Hewlett-Packard Company (now HP Inc.) and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company. As of September 1, 2017, the Material is now offered by Micro Focus, a separately owned and operated company. Any reference to the HP and Hewlett Packard Enterprise/HPE marks is historical in nature, and the HP and Hewlett Packard Enterprise/HPE marks are the property of their respective owners.