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I recently participated in a webinar with Gartner’s Research Vice President, Monica Basso, to discuss the trends in the Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) industry for 2015. One of the main topics covered was how to select an EFSS solution, and in some cases, more than one solution, that satisfies the needs of both end users, or Line-of-Business (LoB) users as they are often called, and IT.

For years, IT has adopted EFSS solutions that fit within their infrastructure, cost and security parameters, but these same solutions have seen slow-to-no adoption by LoB users. Inadvertently, IT has helped usher in a Shadow IT problem, a phenomenon that occurs when non-IT users bring in their own services and applications that may or may not adhere to the sanctioned parameters mentioned above. Obviously, this creates real risks to the business and an adversarial relationship between IT and users that makes everyone’s job harder. I think, however, with the new generation of EFSS solutions available, we could be on the precipice of a new age – one of collaboration and empowerment. But first, let’s look at the current situation.

file sharing, EFSS, enterprise

Figure 1 – Consumer File Sync and Share – User-centric architecture

Mind the Gap: Limitations of the Cloud’s User-Centric Architecture

The problem with most cloud file services is that they were simply not designed to address the needs of an enterprise; they were not built to deliver the performance, scalability, security, auditing and business continuity features most enterprises need. Their purpose is to make it easy for an individual to organize and share information with others, at the file level (one song) or folder level (one photo album); they were designed to put the control in that individual’s hands.

What’s great for the individual, however, is not so great for the enterprise. The user-centric architecture, shown below, can’t scale or provide the visibility and controls an enterprise needs to effectively support file sharing, internally and externally. It is not hard to see how the complexity of the service alone increases exponentially as more and more users share more and more files, with more and more people.

IT and LoB No Longer at Odds

The architecture of an EFSS solution that can bring IT and LoB together also has to be secure (to help protect intellectual property and users), open (to work with any cloud, any storage, any device and any app), and hybrid (a combination of cloud and on-premises storage):

  • Secure: should be implemented at the user (permission), transport and storage (encryption), device (remote wipe) and file (DRM) level.
  • Open: should fit within the native OS environment and allow the use of any application, any device, any cloud or storage provider. This is most important for end users, so they can retain their productivity environment; however, it also makes it possible for LoB and IT to optimize their existing app, cloud and storage investments to ensure their environment is not locked into having to use a particular vendor.
  • Hybrid: should enable IT to use a single pane of glass to manage files, both on and off premises, to increase security and meet regulations. It also helps with the file services adoption by enabling files to be moved to the closest storage location to ensure the optimal performance of latency-sensitive content.

Solutions built with these qualities in mind, from day one, may even be able to preserve the user’s past work and integrate with consumer file-sharing services to add enterprise security and manageability. They will also benefit from the enhanced protection and performance for both their private and corporate files when accessing them from any device and any application, since it is secure and can reside on any cloud or on-premises storage implemented by IT.

Secure, open and hybrid EFSS can address the needs of both LoB users and IT to drive the business forward. It can preserve business agility without compromising security, and it can offer the freedom to choose the applications and devices users want, avoiding any vendor lock-in for IT on storage and applications.

 

 

*The original post appeared in Business 2 Community

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