July 21, 2016, by
Posted in File Sharing, Thought Leadership

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Growing security concerns, a proliferation of unmanaged file sharing tools and stricter corporate compliance requirements are forcing businesses to enact an enterprise level file transfer policy. Outdated technologies and unsanctioned consumer-grade file sharing solutions run rampant in many organizations, and CIOs, CSOs and IT managers are scrambling to gain back control of their sensitive information to protect their bottom line.

The answer to this seemingly insurmountable problem is an enterprise level strategy that can implement a solution that must offer not only security and ease of use but also integrate into core business applications – proving long-term effectiveness and business efficiency.

Damage by Outdated Tools and Processes

Seventy-five percent of companies in the technology and electronics industries rely on plain email for file sharing while more than half use outdated FTP sites, according to a recent study by Forrester. With businesses facing serious security threats every day and rogue employee activity occurring more often, organizations are now placing a newfound emphasis on monitoring and controlling file movement.

Employees are well aware of the cumbersome and known limitations of email and FTP. As a result, they have sought out alternative means of satisfying demanding business and customer needs while working out of the office or on the go. However, these free cloud solutions they have been choosing are neither secure nor appropriate for the organization, and thus IT must step in and put effective protocols in place.

Although most end-users today use email to send electronic files as attachments, the SMTP protocol was not designed for this purpose. The inherent complications with email are file size transfer limitations, lack of capabilities such as guaranteed delivery, checkpoint/restart, tracking and auditability.

Other concerns include:

  • Email storage and disaster recovery
  • Lack of anti-virus scanning, blacklisting/whitelisting of domains and fault tolerance
  • Limited scalability to process large attachments, especially to multiple recipients
  • Consumes system resources (network bandwidth, memory, CPU cycles and storage)
  • Causes slower response times

In order to circumvent the file size transfer limitations of email, many companies have turned to traditional solutions like FTP servers (file transfer protocol). However, this legacy system does not offer adequate security, any central visibility or provide a unified, integrated solution for all internal and external file transfers. The burden on IT is particularly heavy when file transfers are part of workflows which traverse multiple operating environments or transfer partners. This overhead, in combination with an increased focus on compliance and regulations, prompts organizations to look for new technologies to transfer files.

Businesses of All Sizes Require a File Sharing Strategy

Repercussions of an unmanaged solution or lack of strategy can include vulnerability to hackers and potential malware incursion, sanctions from courts or regulators, little or no audit trails and higher IT costs. Personal account usage of consumer-grade file sharing solutions such as Dropbox Inc. or Google Drive for storing and sharing work-related material can lead to data leakage and data breaches. In order to put the appropriate safeguards in place, senior-level leadership and IT managers must work together and decide what solution best suits the company.

Organizations are facing a proliferation of file transfer services and resulting data silos, all of which is putting pressure on existing IT infrastructure. The increase in data flow comes in the form of metadata, messages and, more importantly, expanding attachment sizes. Gartner estimates that “more than 80 percent of file transfers that happen in any given organization are file-based, done in bulk or are between humans using collaborative/communicative systems, such as email.” This, along with the introduction of new requirements on mobile collaboration or BYOD, and the integration with existing technology (e.g. enterprise service buses [ESBs]), brings new challenges around management and governance.

All Enterprise File Sharing Solutions Are Not Created Equal

Enterprises need to facilitate the exchange of information on a daily basis, and so the question becomes: how do they ensure security and reliability of that file transfer system and still improve ease of use? Several factors determine the specific requirements of the company including:

  • Full security governance
  • Data sovereignty and governance standards set forth by legal parameters
  • Audit and control capabilities
  • Deployment options: on premises, cloud or hybrid
  • Integration into existing business applications
  • Ease of use and API design

An Enterprise-grade file sync and share (EFSS) solution can satisfy all of the above requirements, simplify workflows, increase efficiencies, secure BYOD and enable sharing of sensitive or proprietary information.

Senior-level leadership and IT managers are charged with the responsibility of protecting their company’s sensitive data and valuable intellectual property. In order to do so, companies must set up the highest levels of safeguards and put protocols in place for exchanging files. There must be full visibility into all file exchanges with the ability to run extensive reporting on everything from a single file to all transactions. IT administrators must also be able to revoke access to files if an employee is no longer with the company or if mobile devices are lost or stolen. Businesses will find these tools available in enterprise-grade technologies that often offer custom-engineered solutions to fit their specific needs.

The modern business must be equipped with a strong file sharing strategy in today’s risk-ridden environment of file sharing in order to protect its valuable intellectual property and competitive advantage.

2017 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Content Collaboration Platforms