File sharing, is it the right tool for you?
My guess is, you have heard of Drop Box, Box or maybe even ShareFile. All of these are file synching apps that store and share files in the cloud and then down locally to a phone, tablet, laptop, PC or even a server. In today’s fast paced, “I need access now”, environment, file syncing/sharing has been embraced by millions, maybe billions, of people. This new environment allows you, the user, to share documents and folders to the cloud and automatically synchronize to as many devices or people as you wish. This technology will also update the cloud version as documents get added or changed/deleted. While this is a great evolution of the cloud it’s still the new frontier and security is a major issue.
Drop Box claims to have over 45 million users in the consumer space with over 4 billion file uploads daily! What does this mean for the business world? Google Docs makes it easy to collaborate and even offers folder synching to your desktop. Plenty of headaches if not addressed properly but that’s accompanied by tremendous opportunity for employee productivity and morale boosting.
Remember that the first sentence of the post? There is more than one provider and some of them are more technically secure than others. Choose well and you can reap the benefits of this technology. Employees can collaborate on the fly and share documents as needed from handheld devices at a moment’s notice Sales teams, legal departments, project management and any other collaborative team environment will embrace this technology with open arms and they should if setup properly.
But Buyer beware! We are all facing the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) issues of… where is the data stored? Who owns it? And who has access to it? Let’s not forget the 900 lb. gorilla in the room “Compliance”. So, what do you do? Well, there are business class file syncing apps out there like Citrix Sharefile, Syncplicity, Soonr, Egnyte, and even some white label products that allow for security and compliance incorporated into remote wipe allowing the devices to be managed from the back office.
Virtual servers and desktops are what I have the most experience in since 2009. As a cloud provider, I could easily say, ‘if it’s not controlled on our virtual desktops it’s not secure or safe!’ That would be very narrow-minded. The matter of fact here is that syncing folders makes very good sense. By no means is this a backup and recovery solution since you can’t sync system files and application data, and there is no retention mechanism, however, it does give you access to your information anytime, from any device, over any internet connection. Mobilizing a lot of people and empowering them with the data they need when they need it.
The primary question you should be asking yourself is not “now that it’s here and mainstream” “how will we embrace and make it safe and secure?” In my opinion, the easiest way is to enforce through policy that only authorized applications be used to connect to the workplace, those products I mentioned before could be suitable for your needs. Whatever you do, learn and understand the risks as soon as possible because the consumers are driving this one and they are demanding faster access and easier distribution of the workplace data.