Everybody understood traditional file servers. They were the repositories for documents at work that facilitated sharing. Now, online file sharing (OFS) has become the new corporate file server that companies don’t control. IT has to get out in front of this trend with an acceptable alternative to consumer OFS or lose the battle to Box, Dropbox and others. But this new online file server needs to serve two masters. Users need it to be easy and IT needs it to be safe. If it falls short, employees won’t use it, they’ll find their own Dropbox-like services that they can live with, but IT can’t.
Cloud-based Sharing and Collaboration
Soonr Workplace is a cloud file sharing solution that creates a virtual file server for every group that each employee currently works with but also includes a number of powerful tools that can facilitate real collaboration and boost productivity. And it’s simple to install and use so that employees will use it. The product is also very “feature rich,” so much so that this write up will cover only a portion of its functionality.
Anywhere, Anytime Access
Soonr supports all major device types, but not just for viewing. It provides the ability to actually do work on any file with any device that’s in use, whether that’s in the office on a desktop, at home on a laptop, at the coffee shop on a tablet or in the checkout line on a smartphone.
Soonr’s Workplace One-App agent installs on tablets and smartphones and provides unfettered access, powerful editing, and annotation. Then, it makes it easy to save your work and share it with team members and others that are external to the company.
One-App has an embedded Microsoft Office editing functionality so users can open, edit and make comments to files that can be saved as full-fledged Office documents. There’s no need to open them in that specific Office application (or pay the subscription fee!). For example, below is a screenshot of an edited work document on an iPad. Notice that even tracked changes are presented.
One-App also provides the ability to render close to 100 other file types so users can provide input without buying those applications either. Rendering produces a PDF file of the document and supports annotation and markup capabilities that can be saved to the PDF file and added to by others. Since it creates a new copy, rendering also doesn’t affect the integrity of the original document.
These two capabilities, integrated Microsoft Office editing and PDF-based file rendering, let users work on essentially any document that comes their way, wherever they are, on whatever device they’re using. Everything is included in the One-App concept.
For sharing large files, like video the web interface provides the option to stream the video online, ideal for small bandwidth situations like coffee shops. But when the user is back to the office they can download the full video.
Security, Uptime, Compliance
The Soonr cloud is built on an infrastructure that IT can have confidence in. Using two-factor authentication for users to access data, Soonr has never had a data breach. Soonr’s cloud provides 99.9% uptime with HIPAA-compliant, SSAE 16 audited, and geo-redundant data centers in the United States, Canada and Europe. In addition, Soonr invests in 3rd party audits of its operational controls for security and availability under SOC2 and ISAE 3402 that will give IT organizations the peace of mind they require when using public cloud services. They also provide confidence for IT regarding mobile users. With a mobile device locator users can quickly determine if their phone, laptop or tablet is just misplaced. Or they can use remote device wipe and poison-pill data protection to assure corporate data and data access is safe.
One-App’s ability to open nearly 100 different file types and enable users to actually do work on those files makes it very easy to use. But this capability also cures the ‘leaky boat’ effect when different apps are needed to open each type of document. By keeping them in One-App for viewing, input and editing, Soonr Workplace eliminates the need to “Open In” different applications and lose control over data security.
Soonr provides highly granular control of files, making it easy for users and managers to follow the rules regarding file security, access, etc. Sharing isn’t a binary activity; it needs to be more granular than on or off for each person. Soonr enables folder-level access that’s set for each recipient, at the sub-project level. Data owners can specify read only (view), modify (change), create and modify (add) or full access (including delete) for each user. They can also select users by the individual person, by the group or by the connection (people not part of the team including vendors/suppliers outside the company).
Soonr also lets you choose whether a folder can be re-shared by recipients and if pubic links can be created for the files in that folder. Managers can reassign project owners when people leave the company, when the team changes or roles change. This saves time and makes life easier for users and encourages them to keep up with policies – instead of giving up and simply opening folder access to everyone because management is just too difficult to implement.
Powerful Admin Control
IT and managers can see reports on usage, syncing, login activity, devices and computers in use. Soonr integrates with Active Directory and applications like Salesforce and Google Docs through APIs and plug-ins to provide rich file sharing functionality for users of these applications.
Sharing vs Collaboration
Collaboration is really a “second order” sharing process where people share their work, not just files. It’s sharing with a productivity boost. Soonr enables real collaboration by providing tools to improve interaction, protect data and save time by the people who are using the same documents. It gives users a way to view, edit and change documents on the devices they’re using, but without a special app or add-in. And then it saves the input so others can see it and add their own input.
With collaboration the whole is greater than the sum of the parts and Soonr’s ability to bring together all the people in a group to share the same workflow really enables this process. And it does so while keeping data safe and access secure.
Storage Swiss Take
Employees have needs to collaborate (to share files and workflows) and they expect the data infrastructure to support that. When it doesn’t they find their own solutions. “Credit Card IT” is the term used to describe how these employees will often set up their own cloud-based services at work, when those provided by the company are inadequate. This puts the file server ‘in a box’, so to speak, creating significant risk for the company.
Soonr was designed to address this very problem. It creates a simple but powerful file and workflow sharing infrastructure that’s easy for employees to use, safe and secure for IT and the company. Soonr combines cloud connectivity with innovative collaboration technology to move the file server out of the box and back into the corporate data center.
Soonr is a client of Storage Switzerland