On-Premise File Sharing and Sync Options
The popularity of cloud storage is on a steady rise, especially on the enterprise level. Small businesses are now beginning to realize that the services offered by cloud storage offer a lot of convenience by providing a secure way for employees to access, share and sync data files and documents remotely. This gives employees the ability to go beyond simple offline storage solutions while at the same time fostering a new work culture known as ‘BYOD’-Bring Your Own Device: where employees can bring their own devices to the work place and still be able to securely access and store their work files.
However, not all cloud-based storage options are enterprise friendly. Solutions like Dropbox and most public clouds may seem like sure options for consumers but may end up falling short when used in an enterprise environment. In order to make sure they fully enjoy the benefits of enterprise cloud storage, file sharing and synchronization; some small businesses have turned to self-hosted cloud storage solutions. A self-hosted solution gives you full control over all your data and resources. Below are hybrid cloud solutions that are ideal for the enterprise environment.
OwnCloud has scads of features that make it a fierce competitor to the likes of Google Drive and Dropbox. The program requires a web server where the server-side components have to be installed on. It has some dependencies such as libcurl3, php5-curl or php 5.3 or up.
Installing the OwnCloud program requires a bit of technical knowhow and it may be slightly difficult for beginners to install. The installation can either be done by manually unpacking the whole application into a directory of setting up the installer (.PHP file) which will automatically get the rest of the applications files from OwnCloud’s servers. Other factors like SSL certifications may have to be put into consideration in order to guarantee an encrypted connection.
Clients are available for Mac, Linux, Windows and Mac with options to synchronize address book and calendar data with Apple’s iOS.
NOTE: Starting Apr 2015, OwnCloud does not support Microsoft Windows server. Alternatively, FileCloud supports both Windows and Linux. FileCloud offers better features than OwnCloud and offers better value. Compare OwnCloud and FileCloud on features and pricing.
FileCloud is a powerful self-hosted file sharing and sync alternative with additional features that optimize it for the business environment. The installation is quite easy with installers for both windows pc and windows server 2012, 2008 and 2003. It can also be deployed on virtual machines like VirtualBox and VMware. There are install packages (.deb and .rpm) for RedHat, Fedora, Linux and Ubuntu.
FileCloud is highly scalable and provides solid mobile extensions and apps such as FileCloud drive and Mobile management which enhance user experience making it an all-round complete solution. Key advantage of FileCloud over other solutions is the NTFS and Active directory support, which helps business to use their existing file permissions and network shares with FileCloud. It reduces the steps, time and complexity in transition from legacy to cloud. With mobile apps across all platform, backup, versioning, and mobile device management tools, FileCloud is one of the complete solutions.
SparkleShare is a specialized solution for collaboration, management and project hosting. It’s open source meaning you can get it for free and comes with clients for Mac, Windows, and Linux. SparkleShare mainly focuses on projects and you can synchronize files with code-hosting providers like Gitorious and GitHub.
The deployment of SparkleShare is complex and requires technical knowledge and skill. Openssh-server and git have to be installed on the hosting server and on the client side; all you have to do is point it to that server, in order to sync a local folder or individual files with the server.
Vaultize is more of a cloud-based backup solution for enterprises than a file storage, sharing and synchronization solution. It’s included in this list because most cloud backup services are consumer based and their enterprise editions tend to be extensions of their consumer offerings; but Vaultize is specifically built for enterprise.
This self-hosted cloud backup solution is software based and is easily deployable at on premise datacenters. Despite the fact it’s mainly designed for backup, it also has a unified platform for endpoint encryption, file sharing and sync. It is an ideal solution for businesses looking for a hybrid approach to cloud computing.
5. BitTorrent Sync
BitTorrent Sync deviates from storage and focuses on file synchronization. Secure file sharing and sync is quite important in the enterprise work environment and that’s why BitTorrent Sync makes the list in the list. It was built from the ground up with encryption and security in mind. Therefore, if all you require is an efficient and secure way to synchronize and share files; then BitTorrent Sync may be the ideal solution for you.
Since there are no servers involved, it is extremely easy to setup and use; as long as one of the devices has an internet connection, you can sync your data. Data is transferred securely, but the files are stores in their natural, unencrypted state. This basically means you must have complete trust in every device you are syncing between.
AeroFS is sort of a blend of BitTorrent Sync and OwnCloud. On one hand, you have the ability to add users to your “team”, and manage shared folder permissions via the AeroFS website; and on the other, file syncing occurs on a peer-to-peer basis, like on BitTorrent Sync. In a way, AeroFS is a hybrid cloud offering on its own.
AeroFS had a lot of limitations in terms of what you can do with it. To begin with, you can only share folders with a specific amount of people and there is no way of publicly sharing links to file from within AeroFs.
SeaFile is a mature self-hosted cloud storage option that has online collaboration features which makes it useful for projects that involve team members. It has a client side encryption so data stored in the server is encrypted. It has an elegant web interface and has useful file versioning features.
It has an Android client that appears pretty basic and does not offer all the features you would like or need. Another major drawback is how it deals with large files.
Deciding to self-host your own file sharing and sync solution is a big commitment. Make sure you take the time to find a solution that fits perfectly. The above list is not in any order.
Note: It is important to note that not all web hosting companies permit the use of network infrastructure and storage space for any other purpose aside from hosting. You should therefore make sure you contact them before you start syncing data with their servers.