February 01, 2016
EFSS checklist: Five key considerations
Enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) products offer an alternative to using consumer file sync and share for business purposes. EFSS offers the file sharing and collaboration capabilities users want, while giving IT oversight of corporate data. In other words, EFSS brings some security and data protection to the file sync and share productivity party.
The EFSS market is crowded and functionality can vary widely between products. However, there are a few key things to look for when evaluating EFSS.
1. Ease of use
Whatever enterprise file sync and share product you choose needs to be intuitive and easy to use. End users are already using a variety of consumer file sharing and collaboration tools daily for personal and business purposes. So, if your goal is to get users off consumer products and onto EFSS, you need to make it very easy for them.
So, does that mean that you should just blindly sign up for XYZ File Share Business just because a lot of users are familiar with XYZ’s consumer service? Not necessarily. However, if you know that users like that product, it may be a good place to start when evaluating possible alternatives.
2. Ease of administration
Management is another important consideration. Some EFSS products and services are designed to be straightforward and easy to deploy, while others allow administrators to tweak everything under the sun but may be less intuitive.
Consider how the product will integrate with the rest of the IT environment. For example, some products offer integration with an Active Directory and LDAP to ease management and simplify access control. Others offer integration with commonly used enterprise applications such as Outlook and Sharepoint. Role-based administration is another possible consideration. For example, if a user accidentally deletes a file will they be able to initiate a restore on their own? Or, will that require IT intervention?
3. Cloud vs. in-house (or both!)
EFSS can be deployed in the cloud, on-premises or in a hybrid configuration. The decision on where to deploy EFSS will likely come down to business or legal regulations on how data is stored. If users are already using consumer cloud services, a cloud-based EFSS service will provide the same look and feel while giving IT access to corporate data. For many organisations, this is completely adequate. If an organisation is subject to specific requirements about the geographic location of data, an on-premises product may be more appropriate. On-premises EFSS products also typically offer better integration with the rest of your IT environment. Depending on your needs, that could be an important factor to consider.
As noted above, file sync and share functionality can vary considerably between products. For example, some EFSS products offer support for specific collaboration functionality such as shared work spaces, change tracking or workflow support. Others offer support for large files while others do not: This could be a key consideration if users are working with large multimedia files.
Taking a hard look at how EFSS will be used can help to shape your decision-making process. And, it’s important to consider end-user needs today and going forward when selecting a product. As users get comfortable with EFSS, their need for a variety of functionality may grow.
In general, enterprise file sync and share products are more secure than consumer products, simply because IT has control over where corporate data lives and who can access it. Still, you should consider how an EFSS product ensures that corporate data remains secure.
Security features, of course, will vary from product to product. However, two-factor authentication, encryption and access controls are typical. Other products may have security features aimed at specific use-cases. For example, some products offer the ability to remotely lock or wipe laptops and mobile devices to protect against data loss due to theft.