Original article published on IT-Daily.net (Germany)
Tim Berners-Lee famously invented the internet at CERN in the 1980s to find an easier way to share data in between research teams. The internet today has become the backbone of communication for the entire planet and is a crucial resource for individuals, entire industries or even nations that together form our modern global society. As we move on into the digital transformation of our lives, one surprising thing has not changed much since the early days of the internet: Sharing of files is as important as ever but still often relies on archaic protocols and tools, developed in a time when nobody thought about massive data growth, hackers that are interested in stealing intellectual property and huge organizations with tens of thousands employees that share data amongst themselves and with others on a day to day basis. What are the shortcomings of current tools to share files, what is the state-of-the-art solution at the moment and what technologies are on the horizon to deliver the File Sharing of the future?
File sharing today – EFSS is the state-of-the-art
For many years businesses have relied on email or FTP as their main tool for sharing files. Both are, as we know today, not very secure. And neither are unmanaged consumer-grade file sharing solutions that run rampant in many organizations. As file sizes, the need for mobile access and corporate compliance requirements grew, CIOs, CSOs and IT managers were scrambling to gain back control of their company’s sensitive information. The solution to the problem is an enterprise level strategy that is secure, easy to use and in the best case integrates into core business applications. More and more businesses are replacing their outdated strategies to implement state-of-the-art Enterprise File Sync and Share solutions that make it easy to share files of any size from any device in a simple and secure way enabling the company’s employees to exchange information on a daily basis. Not all EFSS solutions are created equal though and it is important that several specific requirements are included to proving long-term effectiveness and business efficiency. A current solution must guarantee full security governance and data sovereignty set forth by legal parameters to the company and give them complete audit and control capabilities. The solution should of course be easy to use and have breadth of APIs that lets it integrate into existing business applications. To get full flexibility and profit from a cloud storage solution, a modern EFSS solution should also be able to be deployed on-premises, in the cloud or as hybrid.
A closer look at the current market reveals that most solutions that are built on consumer-platforms and where business users and consumers share the same platform like Dropbox Inc., One Drive or Google Drive do not match those requirements for businesses, don’t allow secure BYOD, don’t offer automatic workflows and generally do not increase efficiency or the security to share sensitive information. As some vendors are grappling to deliver the requirements of modern organizations that want to choose a solution provider that offers business ready cloud options, the digital transformation is moving ahead and is posing even greater challenges to improve file sharing. Areas that need improvement are file sharing over low bandwidth, sharing big files globally in a shorter time and improving collaboration through automated workflows.
Things to consider for the future, when choosing a solution:
1. Continuous file sharing even on poor connectivity
In urban areas, high speed internet is ubiquitous. Businesses with wide spread operations or businesses like logistics or cruise companies however do not have the luxury of speedy connections everywhere. These businesses need solutions that guarantee a smooth and secure file sharing and collaboration experience over connections with high latency, like satellite connections. To maximize the use of those connections, a modern EFSS solution needs the ability to optimize available bandwidth, for example, by applying parallel block streaming and data caching and prioritization of mission critical file transfers. Connections with low bandwidth also tend to drop entirely at points due to unforeseen weather or physical conditions, so it is important that the solution is able to pick up file transmission where it was left off rather than restarting the process. A solution that addresses those challenges will improve the secure delivery of files and messages irrespective of limited, long-distance networks and will be able to reduce costs on satellite connections and stay on top of their mission critical needs.
2. Transferring large files quicker
As businesses continue to rely on web-based apps to collaborate and exchange content, the need for fast transfer of files from any device is essential. In addition to choosing solutions that use data centers being located around the world, it’s imperative to also look at solution providers who offer faster file transfers using a variety of latest technology , like intelligent “cloud-optimized routing” technology to enable upload and download of files at the fastest possible speed. Like a GPS for file transfers, the solution should be capable to use virtual routers and network measuring agents to map the Internet flow across the world in real-time to maintain a live view of global Internet congestion and automatically avoid high traffic areas. Compliance and security should also be guaranteed with transparency to all traffic with no caching of data at any point.
3. File transfer automation and workflows with centralized IT management
File management within their systems is a growing pain for enterprises. It is complex due to growing file sizes, extensive file types and various protocols used within their systems. Organizations need specialized workflow tools within their EFSS-platform to easily create automated business workflows between any enterprise application, repositories and services
The right solution should allow enterprises to easily schedule simple and multi-step workflows to improve collaboration for their workforce with minimal steps. An IT head should consider a solution that offers a centralized top down management of workflows to avoid the fragmentation of workflows and a potential workflow mess. Automation done right can offload mundane and tedious file transfer or file processing jobs from employees and aging systems by automating file synchronizations between various repositories including: SFTP, HTTP, Amazon S3, Azure, EFSS servers and custom file repositories.
Information exchange has become much more complex since Tim Berners-Lee first invented the HTTP-protocol to share files. For a long time, file sharing technologies have relied on archaic technologies like email that are not fit to meet the requirements of modern organizations. EFSS platforms replace those tools and enable enterprises to overcome those shortcomings and improve flexibility, security and ease of use. The future of file sharing with latest solutions in the market like Thru, will improve existing platforms even further by adding tools that, amongst others, improve file sharing over low bandwidth, help sharing huge files globally very quickly and help to optimize workflows. Businesses that are investing in EFSS-solutions need to make sure that a solution meets both their current and future requirements.