Two key market trends are driving the adoption of enterprise file sync and sharing solutions. First is enterprise mobility. As of 2013, 61 percent of information workers work outside of the office[1], and the number of telecommuters will increase by nearly two-thirds over the next five years. Second is the proliferation of personal devices and/or BYOD programs in the enterprise. These two trends have driven many employees to use consumer cloud sharing services to get their work done. This is problematic because enterprise IT has no visibility or control of these accounts. To meet security, compliance and policy needs, business are looking to adopt enterprise class options for this critical capability.  The question most business leaders and information technology managers struggle with is how to determine what key features they should look for in an enterprise file sync and sharing service and what service best meets their complex needs and will keep their important corporate data secure.

Let’s start with the basics!  

1). What is enterprise file sync and sharing? Enterprise file sync and sharing (EFSS) refers to a range of on-premises and/or cloud-based capabilities that enable individuals to synchronize, store and share documents, photos, videos and files across multiple devices (PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets).  File sharing can be within the organization, with partners, customers and other 3rd parties. File sync and sharing is shorthand for sharing files among multiple users and devices, and synchronizing the shared files to retain file integrity.

There are consumer-style and enterprise-grade file sync and sharing services. Most consumer-style services are free, offer file synchronization, sharing and access with limited file sizes. Most don’t offer the capability to access on-premises data, lack security and administrative features that IT managers demand.

Businesses roll-out enterprise-grade file sync and sharing services because everyone needs to share, sync, store and secure data on any device, anywhere.  Deploying an enterprise-grade service designed for users and engineered for businesses ensures IT control and data security while providing employees with a consumer-like experience they’ll love. If IT does not step in and provide an authorized enterprise-grade

file sync and sharing service, employees will choose to use their own personal file sharing services that provide consumer-style features and put businesses at risk for information leakage and data breaches.

In fact, un-monitored entry of file sharing applications has risen to astonishing rates; according to Enterprise Strategy Group report, a vast majority (70 percent) of organizations know or suspect their employees are using personal online file sharing accounts without formal IT approval[2]. Organizations must deploy enterprise-grade file sync and sharing services to secure their enterprise information assets.

2). What challenges are IT managers facing today…and how can an enterprise file sync and sharing service help them overcome these challenges? 

  •  BYOD, Workshifting, a growing global workforce and 3rd party networks are driving the demand for instant access to (synced) data, offline productivity and seamless collaboration from anywhere.  Functional departments and teams are investing in their choice of consumer- style services to meet their mobility needs, causing enterprise data fragmentation across various online services paired with inconsistent security policies and user experience. Turning to a company-wide, IT authorized, enterprise-grade file sync and sharing service  will provide the ability to share, sync, store and secure data on any device, anywhere.
  • End users are turning to unsecure consumer-style tools because they are user friendly and don’t require a VPN.  Many IT teams are resorting to extreme measures by either blocking the use of these unsecure services and compromising user productivity, or by allowing their use and compromising security.  In addition, consumer-style file sync and share services typically lack the capability of supporting the on-the-go employees and do not boost mobile productivity.  Enterprise file sync and share services offer key features such as built in mobile content editor, ability to integration with a full enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution, and the ability to connect to any enterprise content management (ECM) system.
  • IT is unable to retain control over how sensitive data is accessed, stored and shared – IT teams of today want to maintain data control and visibility. Deploying an enterprise file sync and sharing service will allow IT to regain control.  IT will once again know how data is accessed, stored and shared both inside and outside the organization. In addition, it will also help IT teams adhere to strict security compliance requirements, allow them to utilize existing IT investments, infrastructure and workflows, all while providing a rich end user experience to ensure easy adoption.

3). What organizational benefits does an enterprise file sync and sharing solution provide?

  • The ability to mobilize all enterprise data – An organization can mobilize enterprise data wherever it is stored, on or off premises or in existing data platforms such as network shares and SharePoint or any ECM system. Additional capabilities would allow organizations to retrieve data in personal cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.
  • Improves collaboration, data-sharing & productivity – with an “always – on” read-write access to data synced across all devices.
  • Enables IT to securely manage and control – how data is accessed, stored and shared. Meets corporate data security and compliance standards via a secure service that provides the flexibility to store data on or off premises, or both.
  • Happier users – empower users with instant access to data in sync across all of their devices (desktop PCs and Macs and mobile devices).

4). What important features should be included in an enterprise-grade file sync and sharing solution?

  • An enterprise file sharing and sync service built for mobile users – Give users true enterprise class data services across all corporate and personal mobile devices, while giving IT all the control it needs. Users can access, sync and securely share files from any device with people both inside and outside the organization for easy collaboration and enhanced productivity. Offline access keeps productivity up even when on-the-go.
  • Flexible data storage options that work with what you already have – You should be able to choose where your data is stored – on premises, in the cloud or a combination of both to meet your needs for data sovereignty, compliance, performance and costs. The service should also work with what you have today. There is no need to migrate all of your enterprise data to the cloud.
  • Mobilize existing network shares, SharePoint or any other ECM System– Provide instant mobile access to data on existing network file drives and SharePoint — which can’t ordinarily be accessed outside the corporate network or on mobile devices. The service should any IT or partner organization to develop connectors to any enterprise content management (ECM) system, thereby expanding the types of data users can access and edit on the go.
  • Secure enterprise file management –Advanced security features including remote wipe, device lock, passcode protection, white/black listings and data expiration policies allow you to determine exactly how sensitive data is stored, accessed and shared. Track and log activity in real-time and create custom reports to meet compliance requirements. Also the ability to maintain data encryption key ownership when using Microsoft Azure.
  • Integrate mobile apps, desktops, data and services in your mobile workspace – Data is a critical component of the mobile workspace. Without access to data, you cannot get your work done. A file sharing service that is optimized for virtual desktop environments and integrates with other key mobile workspace technologies is also critical.  For example, Citrix ShareFile allows for seamless transitions from physical to virtual desktops and future OS migrations, enabling IT to future-proof their investments.

5). Should enterprise file sync and sharing services be tightly integrated with enterprise mobility management (EMM)?

Yes, they should–with a unified user experience people love.  Most enterprise file sync and sharing services (EFSS) do not seamlessly integrate with EMM solutions.  Those EFSS products typically require the purchase of additional tools and services and integration development.  Citrix has a differentiated ability to address end user computing challenges more holistically with solutions that cover mobile desktops, apps and data. Citrix ShareFile was one of the first EFSS tools to be wrapped into an EMM solution.

Citrix XenMobile Enterprise Edition includes ShareFile Enterprise to enable people to sync, share, open and edit data in corporate apps on any device they use, while IT maintains security and control.

See what top analyst firms have to say about Citrix.

Business leaders and IT Managers not familiar with Citrix ShareFile are welcome to request a completely free trial.

[1] Source: Forrester Research, Inc.’s Business Technographics Application and Collaboration Workforce Survey, Q4 2013

[2] ESG Research Brief, Online File Sharing and Collaboration: Security Challenges and Requirements, August 2012