Securing Business Data In The Wild

Recently I sat down with Colm Keegan, Senior Analyst at Storage Switzerland for a podcast on File Sync and Share Solutions; “Is File Sync & Share Broken?”.

Charlie: You have a new article on storageswiss.com, “What’s Wrong with File Sync and Share Offerings”. This is a very popular article. Why do you think this is so popular and then secondly, isn’t file sync and share just code for Dropbox?

Colm: A lot of people think that, Charlie. But I would say the reason that it’s popular is that we’ve seen a huge amount of adoption from end users. If you think about mobile devices, whether it’s your iPhone or your iPad or your Android device, that gives you the ability to access data from anywhere at anytime. And quite frankly, users just want the ability and the freedom to push down their data on demand.

As a result we’ve seen this enormous adoption of file sync and share technology. And to your second question: The first real big player that most people think of in this space is Dropbox. So, you know, end users didn’t have a choice.

Their IT departments weren’t giving them a like service, so they just went out and signed up for a Dropbox account, or whatever other services are out there, and started using them. It’s creating a real dilemma for IT. So I would say those are the principal reasons why the article is getting so many hits these days.

Charlie: So, what’s the big difference? Is it just basically security?

Colm: Well, security definitely plays a big part. So if you’ve got sensitive corporate data that’s just floating out in cyber space, you want to make sure that it’s locked down. Dropbox, to be fair, has put in measures like encryption. But it’s more than just encryption, it’s about what if a data thief hacks in and gets your login credentials?

They could log in from their own remote device and pull down information on the fly. So we need ways to actually lock that down. There’s something called “multi-phase authentication technology” that can actually help thwart some of this data theft thats going on out there.

Charlie: Now, what about SLAs? How does that tie into this, in making this type of system, to share and sync your documents, better than Dropbox or some of the other providers out there?

Colm: The reason why it’s important, Charlie, is that providers like Dropbox don’t have any defined service level agreements. That’s what SLA stands for. Meaning, how available is the service going to be, what’s the quality of service going to be?

The reason that’s important, is that more and more people are using this to do their jobs. If the service goes down (pause) let’s think of an easy example. Let’s say there’s a sales team working on a hot proposal and they’ve got to get back to that customer within hours. If the service suddenly goes down, they’re dead in the water.

So we need services that actually tell you, if you sign up, you’ll be able to have very high availability and we’ll give you specific parameters around that. And we’ll also make sure the service performs to the standards it should perform, so that you can do your job.

Charlie: And can this improve productivity in the business environment?

Colm: Oh, absolutely. That’s one of the things we talk about in the articles.

This is also a collaborative tool. As you know, we use services to share documents between each other, but one of the limitations is, I can’t see at a glance whether or not George has picked up an article that I’ve shared with him and vice-versa.

So sometimes we’ve got to resort to things like phone calls and IM sessions. If you’ve got dozens of people doing that in an organization, do you know how much time can be wasted if you’re constantly engaging in those activities? Just so you can see where your peer is in their workflow?

Charlie: Colm, what’s CEBP makeover? What is that?

Colm: Well, Charlie thats an acronym for Communications Enabled Business Process. Solutions like SmartBox offerings from PanTerra, effectively give you that capability.

It’s basically wrapping into a single application, file sync and share, as well as all the communications technologies that people use on their desktop or remote devices everyday.

For example, instant messaging, or voice over IP, desktop sharing. If you had everything in a single application instead of having multiple icons, switching around your desktop, or picking up your headset on your phone; you can do it all from a single application, see what your peers are doing in terms of workflow. You can see whether or not they’re actually working on a document you’ve shared with them. Then you can in real time initiate an IM session, collaborate with your team partners and share your desktop. Thats what CEBP is.

Charlie: You can listen to Colm Keegan, on this podcast talking about his article “What’s Wrong with File Sync and Share Offerings”. You can also watch our on-demand webinar “How To Create An Enterprise Class File Sync and Share Solution”.

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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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