Modern organizations today, regardless of size, are faced with many laws and government regulations that require them to maintain control and security of their data as well as properly protecting that data. At the same time, they have to meet the needs of their often highly distributed workforce for a simple but secure means to share and collaborate on any data file from any device, without sacrificing security and control of sensitive business data.
File Sync and Share Risks
File sharing and collaboration have become crucial to business success. Many workers have begun using BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) equipment, like laptops, smart phones and tablets, to increase their productivity and efficiency by being able to access company data from anywhere at any time and to collaborate on it with other workers or customers. However, when an organization cannot provide a means for workers to share and collaborate on files, workers often resort to using public cloud file and sync sharing solutions like Dropbox, Box, and others.
This approach, known as Shadow IT, places copies of company files on third party servers putting these copies beyond IT control, management and protection. As my colleague George Crump, explains in the article, “What is Shadow IT? – and why you should care”, this can put sensitive company data at risk of falling into the wrong hands because of the minimal security often found in these public cloud services. Additionally, in countries with strict laws on data residency, copying files from a company server to a cloud server that is outside of that country could leave the organization open to severe penalties.
Another risk is that when the file copy shared in the cloud is updated or modified, unless the user remembers to copy it back to the company servers, the updated copy of the file will not be protected by the organization’s regular data protection processes. Additionally, if the updated file is not copied back to the organization’s servers, or the user leaves, the organization loses access to the updated data. What is needed is a file sync and share solution that is as easy to use as Dropbox but that lets the organization retain full control, security and accountability of its data.
Current File Sync and Share Limitations
While there are a number of solutions and strategies that enable organizations to provide secure file sync and share services of their own, most of them require an organization to build out their own private cloud infrastructure or make use of an EFSS (Enterprise File Sync and Share) service. Both of these methods have limitations such as:
- Data fragmented across disparate storage services and devices with files
spread out over multiple localities and storage devices, with portions duplicated over private and public cloud services.
- Not all data can be synced unless its located in sync folders which have to be created and managed by the workers or IT staff.
- Inherent security, privacy and availability risks. Various public cloud services have suffered security breaches as well as service outages. It is also impossible to know if data is being inspected by third parties since it is subject to legal access by government agencies with the knowledge or consent of the client.
- Recurring costs as well as new infrastructure expenses for additional storage, bandwidth and management.
Secure File Sync and Share Through Storage Infrastructure Virtualization
A potential solution to these problems would be one that allows the organization to virtualize all of its existing storage regardless of type, and which would allow it to abstract all its files from their physical location. All files can then be made accessible to any system or device from any location while the files remain securely on the organization’s storage and fully under the organization’s control.
FileFlex, a new service from Qnext, gives organizations the means to virtualize their entire storage infrastructure and provide secure access to any file on any device anywhere within the corporate infrastructure while maintaining complete control and security of all data. It can also extend that control and access to files that may already be stored in the cloud.
FileFlex virtualization of a storage infrastructure abstracts all files from their physical location, which allows them to be made accessible to any other computer, tablet, or smartphone from anywhere. However, the files remain securely in their original source location and under the organization’s control. It is unnecessary to upload files to a third party, or sync them to a secondary location. The organization decides what can be shared, how it is shared and with whom. Additionally all in-app data-in-motion is encrypted.
FileFlex aggregates all of an organization’s storage and allows it to be managed from a single easy to use management console. It also provides real-time event logging for an audit trail of all data-in-motion activities.
FileFlex is available for Windows, Mac and Linux desktop clients. It also is available for Android and iOS devices. It works with all popular web browsers including Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera.
There are two versions of FileFlex available now. The standard version of FileFlex is geared for SOHO (Small Office or Home Office) deployments. It offers a 30 day free trial. After the trial it can be purchased for an annual subscription fee of $34.95.
FileFlex standard version currently supports public cloud services Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and Box. It also supports NAS devices from Synology, QNAP and Netgear.
FileFlex for Enterprise is for mid-market and enterprise class organizations. Initially this service is being released this month through MSPs (Managed Service Providers) as a pilot program. But, it will become available for enterprise class organizations in the near future.
FileFlex from Qnext appears to offer a very robust and flexible alternative to other current file sync and share solutions for any organization to provide a secure, simple means to share and collaborate on any file regardless of where it may be located in the enterprise. It also provides the means to maintain full security and control of an organization’s files in order to meet various regulatory and compliance requirements. SMBs, which lack the resources of large organizations, should take a close look at FileFlex as a possible solution to their file sharing and collaboration needs.