File sharing aka Syncing, is it the right tool for businesses?

English: Cloud Computing Image

English: Cloud Computing Image (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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?  Plenty of headaches if not addressed properly but that’s accompanied by tremendous opportunity for employee productivity and moral.  Remember that 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.  If a client needs an updated, sensitive document that shouldn’t be shared across public networks then this is a solution that fits the bill for your mobile workforce.  Sales teams, legal departments, project management and any other collaborative team environment will embrace this technology with open arms.

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 Synchplicity, Soonr, Egnyte and even some white label products that allow for security and compliance incorporated in to remote wipe allowing the devices to be managed from the back office.  Even Drop Box has announced a reseller channel that will allow Managed Service Providers (MSP’s) to capture the current consumer base within a company and separate the personal data from the corporate data.

Virtual servers and desktops are what I specialize in.  We are a cloud provider and could easily say, ‘if it’s not controlled on our virtual desktops it’s not secure or proper!’  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, 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 “when is it going to happen?” but more so “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.

Happy Holiday’s

Steve

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About steveferman

I am the creator and owner of eTegrity systems International, a cloud based Backup and Recovery provider for Msp's and Vars. I am also the President of Compunite Computers, inc. a 22 year old MSP and named top 100 MSp's 3 years running. I am known as the busiest man in backup and also do a lot of speaking for industry publications like IT world and Msp Alliance. I hope I can share some good insights and knowledge from my over 30 years in the industry.
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