A Complete Guide to Enterprise File Sharing and Sync – Part 5: Pure Cloud Vendors

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The need to seamlessly share and sync files has grown over the past few years as an increasing number of people begin to embrace a digital lifestyle on both a professional and personal level. Thanks to the plethora of affordable yet powerful devices; partners, clients and employees now have the ability to connect, share, create, edit and delete files in an instant.

Despite the rapid rate of cloud adoption, security and data safety are still major concerns. Although widely criticized for their security features or lack thereof; pure cloud vendors deliver fast, cheap and easy to use services that require minimal investment. Aside from simplifying cloud storage, a pure cloud architecture is capable of integrating document editing, extending personal workstation file space and typically includes real-time document workflow and backup.

Leveraging the economies of scale provided by a pure cloud architecture is hinged on choosing the right partner. As a growing number of cloud vendors approach maturity; navigating the complex world of service providers can be daunting to the uninitiated. For a more detailed look on choosing the right cloud partner, check out part three of the series.  While some of the vendors in the pure cloud arena are new to the world of document management and file sharing on an enterprise level, some of them have an incumbent position.

Dropbox for Business

This pure-play cloud-based enterprise solution from Dropbox is a continuation of the consumer product. It encompasses all the great features of the consumer product such as a friendly and straightforward end-user interface; bundled with the safeguards, control and extended APIs required of an enterprise product. Its desktop client (sync) continues to trial blaze with flexibility, reliability, speed, performance and regular updates. The mobile client is constantly updated and is available on all the major platforms.

Administrators are granted sufficient amount of power over link management, sharing, team membership and exclusion. Features such as view only allow administrators to set view/edit permissions on shared documents. Shared links can also be set to expire after a set amount of time. User reports can be generated at any time. Despite lacking built-in encryption, Dropbox has a rich set of third-party participants. Adding security features such as encryption require the use of third party applications such as Splunk, SkyHigh or CloudLock. This reliance on third party apps may lead to an increase in costs and multi-vendor complexity.

For a more detailed comparison, Click Here.

Box

Box was born for business. Its agile practices and cooperate-friendly features has allowed it to make remarkable progress, positioning itself for long-term sustainability in the pure-cloud space. Box has a streamlined, well-organized and intuitive user interface. Its powerful document workflow and sleek functionality is consistent between the desktop client and mobile client. Like other exclusively cloud-based offerings, Box relies on third party partnerships to satisfy enterprise needs.

Box offers extensive administrator controls and unlimited storage for free, but capabilities such as access to enterprise integrations are only available to paying customers. Its comprehensive API integration program supports more than a thousand integrations via multiple partners; including project/product management, security, social collaboration, CRM and office applications. Box’s policy-based security is more secure than other cloud-first tools but falls short of enterprise security needs. Content uploaded to box via their website or box-created applications are encrypted on transit via a high-strength TLS encryption. Users who require more complex encryption can turn to partners such as CipherCloud.

For a more detailed comparison, Click Here.

Google Drive

On top of being an affordable pure-play cloud storage option, Google Drive is also a powerful tool for teamwork and collaboration. The integration of the Software as a Service (SaaS) productivity apps adds to its robustness. Team collaboration features are further enhanced by file change notifications, integration with Google Hangouts and Gmail, and ‘live’ in document highlights. The apps and ecosystem works across multiple platforms.

In June 2014, Google announced Google Drive for Work, a solution tailored for the enterprise. For $10 per user per month, Google offers control over desktop client installation, auditing, retention rules and reporting. Google also introduced new information rights management options that allow admins to disable the copy, print and download features of files stored in corporate Google drives. Google’s open and powerful Drive SDK coupled with their API allows developers to easily create Drive applications. Google Drive for Work also addresses various security issues, specifically related to files on transit and at rest via encryption, mobile device management and enterprise administration.

Microsoft OneDrive for business (formerly SkyDrive Pro)

The most appealing thing about OneDrive for Business is that it tightly revolves around Microsoft office file and application integration. Since its part of the Microsoft Office 365 collaboration, the greatest value is gotten by editing, saving and viewing PowerPoint, Excel and Word documents. It terms of OS integration, Windows 8 and 8.1 users have OneDrive built into their OS; it also has clients for Android, IOS and Mac. Seamless collaboration is fostered by advanced document management facilities.

Some of the cloud security features offered by OneDrive for business include; policies and controls, encryption at rest, data preservation, e-discovery, audit reporting and compliance with high-level industry standards such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), the Buy American Act (BAA) and EU Model clauses.

For a more detailed comparison, Click Here.

Amazon WorkDocs

Amazon recently revealed WorkDocs; a fully managed, secure document storage and sharing service geared towards the enterprise. Although its initial target was the document review process; it’s quite clear that Amazon has essentially added the capabilities of Box and Dropbox to its own platform in an attempt to dominate enterprise IT. While aimed at the enterprise crowd, WorkDocs has the look and feel of consumer-first services such as Dropbox. WorkDocs offers users simple and straightforward document access across multiple platforms including, Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.

Its centralized management allows admins to create and manage user accounts, manage storage limits, generate activity and auditing reports, and set up security policies. Organizations can also opt to link WorkDocs with their existing Active Directory. Files are encrypted both at rest and during transmission. In order to meet some compliance regulations, WorkDocs admins can select which geographic region they wish to store their files.

The above pure cloud providers are not arranged in any particular order.

Click here to learn about FileCloud, a leading enterprise file sharing and folder sync solution.

Author: Gabriel Lando