Keeping it in the business: how to make file sharing enterprise-proof

Today’s consumer file-sharing services are marketing themselves as enterprise solutions. With low fees, free trials, trendy buzzwords and partnerships with IT titans, such tools are aiming to convince businesses across the world that they are a safe environment for information management. However, consumer file-sharing services are simply not good enough for those enterprise seeking to manage where enterprise information resides, who can access it and who 'owns' it.

The future of cloud compliance

As interactions become more digital, collaboration platforms will need to protect information at the point at which it is used within the application. Organisations need to consider whether the tools that they are introducing have inbuilt security mechanisms, such as access and permissions, information audit capabilities and secure file storage that enables IT administrators to maintain clear visibility of the data that is being shared across file-sharing applications.

> See also: Is unauthorised use of file sharing solutions putting organisations on a slippery slope?

Enterprises also need to ensure that they will continue to truly ‘own' their content. Regulations exist in most regions that govern how information can be accessed and often require organisations to ensure information is kept within specific geographical regions. For example, from next year the EU’s Data Protection Directive and UK’s Data Protection Act will mean that businesses are accountable for governing the transfer of personally identifiable information across Europe.

To demonstrate compliance with strict policies and avoid harsh penalties, business leaders need the ability to control which jurisdictions data is handled in. Before deploying any cloud platforms, organisations need to closely examine service level agreements and make sure that it includes a guarantee that data cannot be monitored, sold, withheld or lost to comply with regulations.

The central nervous system of information management

Enterprise IT departments also need to consider how file-sharing systems can form the backbone of integrated information architectures that act as a central nervous system for capturing, tracking and reporting on regulatory requirements. As more people author, link and tag information on file-sharing platforms, an organisation’s content becomes more searchable, analysable and manageable. In turn, this makes information seamless and visible.

Organisations need a different way of looking at where to put content and collaboration. By aligning information on a common infrastructure, IT can provide a platform for distributing documents, collaborating and working more effectively, whilst making it easier to meet regulatory requirements.

It’s time to break up!

Recent incidents involving cloud applications have reignited scrutiny over cloud security and where information resides.  As a result, instead of embracing tools that facilitate knowledge exchange, IT simply blocks them so that they can maintain strict control over the type of information that is stored, where it is kept and what is shared.

When it comes to today’s consumer-grade, cloud-based, file sync and share platforms, a new approach is needed. Data security and the physical location of data are critical areas that need to be addressed. Yet the cloud has become a defining technology for the 21st century and is a fundamental enabler of future digital innovations.  What enterprises need are cloud-based collaboration services that have been specifically built for businesses, maintain data sovereignty and ensure that information compliance and governance initiatives are upheld.

Getting to the core of change

Ultimately, embracing change and creating infrastructures that empower organisations to share access to information securely is critical. If IT does not permit access to certain file-sharing tools, then employees will simply find alternative ways of bringing them inside the firewall that circumvents IT and puts established governance rules and policies at risk.

> See also: One in four admit employees use 'unofficial' cloud file-sharing 

To stop the risk associated with the spread of consumer-grade file sharing and content proliferation on laptops, mobile devices and unmanaged public clouds, IT departments are feeling mounting pressure to find solutions that meet the needs and expectations of users while minimising the exposure to security risks for the organisation.

As organisations move to the cloud and adopt more digital business processes, they require applications that balance user experience and productivity with enterprise security and controls. Businesses need tools that are built specifically for the digital enterprise by combining the benefits of a secure cloud deployment with a simplified user experience across any device – whether tablet, phone or browser – to allow users to get information fast and easily.

Sourced from Lubor Ptacek, VP Product Strategy at OpenText

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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