Ignoring Dropbox – At Your Peril

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The consumerization of IT is creating a dilemma for IT organizations. End users are demanding the ability to work from any location from any device globally and that is starting to put a lot of pressure on IT to keep up with those demands. To accomplish this goal, in many instances, end users have simply bypassed their IT organizations altogether and have started consuming file sync and share cloud services like Dropbox.

Cloud Service Gatecrashers

In addition to exposing corporate data to potential security breaches, the massive end user adoption of Dropbox could represent a more ominous trend for IT – the gradual erosion of their standing as the internal service provider of choice.

By now, many IT planners are familiar with some of the risks associated with storing business information in the cloud. Chief amongst those risks are the lack of enterprise class security features. For example, because most file sync and share services don’t employ Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) login access security technology, sensitive business documents could be exposed to data thieves.

Cloud Exposed Data

Indeed, even big public technology companies like LinkedIn, Facebook and Google have had user account login credentials compromised. In some cases, this has resulted in the theft of personally identifiable information (PII) like social security and credit card numbers, which can wreak havoc on the lives of those victimized.

Similarly, IT organizations need to be vigilant about where business information is stored and take measures to prevent it from being hacked.

SLA-less Service Delivery

Another issue with end users relying on Dropbox like services is that there are no explicit service level agreements (SLAs) which define how highly available that service will be or if the quality-of-service (QoS) itself will always be consistently good. As more and more end users start to rely on file sync and share to do their job, this can potentially be another exposure point for businesses. What if the service goes down for an extended period? How might that impact the business?

Most people have become accustomed to cloud applications always being “on”. But as a consumer grade service, Dropbox is just as prone to experiencing the kind of outages that have plagued other consumer services, like Netflix, in the past. In addition, Dropbox is hosted in Amazon’s cloud and is susceptible to an Amazon outage, of which there were several last year. For this reason, IT needs to consider technologies that provide enterprise class availability (99.999% uptime) with guaranteed QoS.

Raising the File Sync and Share Bar

To incent end users to make a switch, IT needs to provide a service that has capabilities that go beyond standard file sync and share offerings. The service should provide features that actually enhance the end user collaboration experience while making them more productive. Some examples include more granular file sharing (sub-folder level) capabilities, the ability to see in real-time what the availability status is of other team members and whether or not they have made modifications to shared files.

CEBP Driven Collaboration

End users also need a Communications Enabled Business Process (CEBP) where all standard Internet based communications, like instant messaging (IM), voice-over-IP (VoIP) and video conferencing, are all available from within the same application as the file sync and share service. In this manner, all users of the service are operating from the same file sync and share and Unified Communications (UC) platform; enabling more seamless collaboration.

A File Sync and Share Safety Blanket

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The adoption of a service like the PanTerra Networks SmartBox offering, allows IT to securely reign in corporate data while providing their internal customers with a service that is highly available, reliable and exceeds their expectations. It’s also a good first step towards eradicating the shadow IT silos that are starting to creep into the data center environment. Storage Switzerland’s recent article, “What’s Wrong With File Sync and Share Offerings”, discusses all of these issues in greater detail.

To learn more about how you can satisfy your end user needs for file sync and share, please join us for a webinar on Wednesday March 5th at 12pm Eastern Time by registering at the following link. By registering, you will receive an advanced copy of the Storage Switzerland white paper “Designing An Enterprise Class File Sync and Share Solution”.

PanTerra is a client of Storage Switzerland

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As a 22 year IT veteran, Colm has worked in a variety of capacities ranging from technical support of critical OLTP environments to consultative sales and marketing for system integrators and manufacturers. His focus in the enterprise storage, backup and disaster recovery solutions space extends from mainframe and distributed computing environments across a wide range of industries.

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