Enterprise File Sync and Share Comes of Age – FileCloud Briefing Note

File sync and share is one of those IT initiatives that administrators would rather avoid and there are what seems to be viable alternatives in the consumer cloud. The challenge with letting users take matters into their own hands is that organizational data is put at risk and, eventually, IT gets called back into make things right. IT needs to take control of the process by using enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) solutions that provide consumer based sharing and collaboration while giving IT the control it needs to safeguard organizational data.

Why EFSS Isn’t Being Deployed

EFSS solutions have been available almost as long as there have been consumer file sync and share. The problem is these solutions were plagued with very poor user experiences and complex administration policies causing users to rebel.

The Storage Problem

How to select, implement and leverage the storage that will support the EFSS initiative is the first problem for most EFSS solutions. Remember, that for most organizations EFSS is coming in late. They already have a file server or network-attached storage system (NAS). But many EFSS solutions force the organization to move all its data to another on-premises storage system or they require all the data copied to the cloud. This forced move is because most EFSS either require the adoption of the cloud or don’t have a cloud option at all and require the customer purchase their on-premises appliance. Not all organizations are the same size nor do they have the same retention requirements. Some will want to leverage their investment in on-premises storage, as well as benefit from total control over security. Other organizations will want to leverage the cloud to reduce or eliminate on-premises storage costs.

The User Problem

The second problem is how the EFSS solution interfaces with the users. How easy is it to use and how seamless is it to their workflow? Many of these solutions still force the use of a web interface or in some cases don’t have a web interface at all. Others don’t have complete client support including Window, Mac and Linux. Also when collaborating with business partners or customers they require that the participant have an account with that service. Most don’t go beyond basic file system integration to support capabilities like integrating with common user applications like Microsoft Office and Outlook.

The Admin Problem

Finally, most EFSS solutions have an incomplete administrative experience. Most will provide basic oversight capabilities but few provide integration into Active Directory or dashboards that provide insight to trends and analytics across thousands of users. Many are surprisingly weak in security and only provide basic encryption, ignoring two factor authentication, anti-virus scanning and ransomware detection.

Introducing FileCloud

FileCloud is a feature rich EFSS solution that supports both on-premises and in-cloud use cases. It provides a web interface, Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS and Android. The on-premises version leverages existing and in-place storage and does not require the purchase of additional storage. But customers may choose cloud storage if they want to lower their on-premises investment. The solution also includes complete search of not only basic metadata like file name and date but also content search within a file. File types supported include txt, pdf, doc, docx, xls, xlsx, ppt, pptx files.

Sharing

FileCloud offers many sharing features including the ability to share with groups, restrict upload/downloads, and set an expiry date. Additionally, FileCloud provides unlimited free client accounts. Limited user accounts can view/upload/download content shared with them and are limited to access via a web browser. Limited user accounts can view/upload/download all content shared with them but are limited to access via a web browser. The solution will provide complete reporting on who accessed what files and when.

Another key aspect of sharing is control over who is editing what files. If two users open the same file, organizations will want more than just preservation of the different versions of the files. FileCloud will lock and unlock files appropriately to enable easy collaboration across multiple teams. File locking assures that there is one master of a file and that time consuming document merges don’t have to occur.

Administration

A key component of EFSS is how well IT can leverage it to maintain control and protect organizational assets. FileCloud integrates with Active Directory, the on-premises version supports NTFS conventions and network shares like (SMB and NFS). Administrators can also limit how much capacity users can use, manage sharing, monitor GEO IP access patterns, capture a complete audit trail of accesses and remotely wipe data.

User Experience

Most important is that users adopt the solution. FileCloud not only hits all the key operating system integration checklists it also has excellent mobile device support, potentially the best we’ve seen. Microsoft Office Mobile apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) on iOS and Android can directly open/edit/save files from and to the FileCloud server. Not stopping at iOS the software works well with Chromebooks, which are dominating the education market and growing in popularity in business. FileCloud’s ‘Web Edit’ feature opens an Office Online app (Word, PowerPoint, Excel etc.) in the browser to open a file. Your changes are auto-saved as you edit.

StorageSwiss Take

EFSS is a must have. The problem is most solutions can’t compete with consumer grade solutions as far as usefulness. Most EFSS solutions are also an administrator nightmare. They are forced to move files, integrate outside of Active Directory and deal with incomplete management system.

The completeness of the FileCloud platform is impressive. It does more than just cover the key essentials of an EFSS solution, it also provides unique features not seen in other solutions and does so in a way that is easy to implement and operate. FileCloud deserves strong consideration for organizations who either want to bring in consumer grade file sync and share services or re-boot formally failed attempts at enterprise versions.

Eight years ago George Crump, founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal. To educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is and a heavily sought after public speaker. With 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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One comment on “Enterprise File Sync and Share Comes of Age – FileCloud Briefing Note
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