Most organizations store and share files by setting up one or more file servers. They used to be referred to as “File and Print Servers”, but as most printers include direct network connectivity, spooling, and job management features, the need to have print spooling and drivers running on a server has nearly disappeared.
File servers seem to be heading in the same direction.
Disk space no longer needs a physical connection to a server with a full operating system. Disk drive control, security, access rights, and I/O management can be delivered directly by storage area networks (SANs), network attached storage (NAS), and cloud storage solutions.
What happens when storage is further abstracted?
Gladinet (http://www.gladinet.com) has a series of tools that lets you attaché multiple, independent cloud storage systems and accounts and presents them as top level folders on a mapped drive. OffiSync gives you access to Google Docs and Google Sites storage from toolbars/ribbons in the MS Office applications (avoiding mapped drives and windows explorer altogether). While Gladinet extends the model of OS-based storage management, OffiSync moves storage management directly into the application.
In its infancy, cloud storage services are giving us the opportunity to rethink the positioning and role of storage within operational architectures – in the cloud and in our data centers. File servers feel nearly obsolete as storage becomes a commodity and access control migrates from the operating system to the applications themselves.