Enterprise File Cloud Storage and Sharing: What Are the Options?

Posted by Daniel Cohen-Dumani on January 31, 2018


Today, one of the big buzzwords in business is Digital Transformation, and while it can encompass a variety of things, one of its primary purposes is to update systems and processes to allow for more productive and efficient workplace communication and collaboration. In order to facilitate this kind of collaboration, organizations need to deploy an enterprise cloud file sharing system, also known as Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing “EFSS”.

Must Have Capabilities of Enterprise File-Sharing
While no two systems are the same, and many are niche and industry specific, there are some universal capabilities all enterprise cloud file sharing systems should have. The most important feature is EFSS, or enterprise file sync and share. EFSS makes it extremely easy to securely store, sync, and share documents, photos, and videos, with other people -- across multiple devices. All your files can also be synced, stored, and accessed from the cloud as well.

Some other important features of a good enterprise file sharing system include:

  • A Positive User Experience
  • External Sharing Abilities
  • Ease of Deployment
  • Robust Security Features

Before selecting a cloud file sharing system, make sure you outline and prioritize your requirements. It can be helpful to speak with a cloud consultant to really walk you through the different capabilities available within each of the options, and determine which one makes sense for your organization.

Top Enterprise File Sharing Platforms
There are tons of enterprise file sharing platforms available. Each system is unique and comes with its own set of features, so creating a head-to-head comparison is difficult and this is not the intent of this article. With that said, we’ve put together some capability summaries of the bigger players in the industry. One of Microsoft’s advantages is the ability for hybrid cloud on-premise deployment of OneDrive and SharePoint. On the negative side, many organizations are often put down by the complexity of the offering and the fact that there is a separation between individual file sharing “OneDrive” and team/company file sharing “SharePoint or Teams”.

Microsoft’s Offerings – OneDrive, SharePoint & Teams
Microsoft has three systems that incorporate enterprise cloud file sharing; OneDrive, SharePoint, and Microsoft Teams. Each is a bit different, but, generally speaking, Microsoft offerings are complicated to understand but fortunately easy to use with a moderate level of difficulty to deploy, so you’ll most likely need someone to help navigate the setup.

OneDrive -- Great Security & Recovery w/ Limited Document Sharing
OneDrive came out of a need to provide Office 365 users a place to share personal files. It shares a back-end with SharePoint and was historically embedded into SharePoint, so it’s security is top notch and it has great recovery features. Document sharing was once difficult but Microsoft has enhanced the capabilities with content expiration and one-time access token access code that expires, cross-tenant document sharing and public access to content. Regarding syncing, OneDrive was known for unreliable syncing. For the past two years, Microsoft has worked hard to make syncing very reliable. The not so new sync client was released in early 2017 and is followed by syncing on demand now available with Windows 10 Fall Creator Edition.

Microsoft SharePoint -- Great Security & Recovery w/ Sophisticated Document Management
SharePoint allows you to share documents amongst team members, and it has a great document management system. Along with OneDrive, it’s the most secure platform with equally great recovery features. Document sync has been available in the latest iteration of SharePoint Online since early 2017.

Microsoft Teams -- Has File Storing Capabilities
Microsoft Teams isn’t really a traditional enterprise cloud sharing system, it’s more of an enterprise chatting tool marketed as the Hub for collaboration. However, we felt it’s worth mentioning because its native collaboration and file storing capabilities leverage SharePoint and OneDrive to store content, thus inheriting the capability of the platform around security and compliance.

Box -- Simple, w/Good Document Sync, Storage, & Management
Box was one of the first enterprise file sharing systems, so it has a very traditional user interface. It works well to store, manage, and sync large amounts of files and documents, and it’s integrated with Active Directory and single sign-on with Office 365. It’s simple to deploy and an easy to use solution. Box comes with very strong APIs. On the negative side, Box requires an additional plugin to make the user experience seamless such as Box Edit, Box for Office and the upcoming Box drive and the compliance and security features are constantly evolving.

Dropbox for Business -- Good Syncing & Administrative Capabilities
Dropbox for Business used to be called Dropbox for Teams and is often a natural transition for people already familiar with the personal version of the platform. It’s very similar to Box, but with better syncing and administrative functionalities. Dropbox is a good fit for companies with a large user base familiar to Dropbox Consumer version. Dropbox for Business file syncing is fast and reliable and Dropbox offers extensive APIs. A word of caution regarding some limitations around administration.

Both Box & Dropbox for Business easily integrate with Microsoft products, despite being competitors.

Citrix Sharefile -- Advanced Security Capabilities
Citrix Sharefile is easily integrated with other Citrix products, and Active Directory. It has more features than Box and Dropbox -- with the ability to wipe sensitive data from devices. This platform is popular for organizations already familiar with Citrix, or those who require more advanced security features.

Egnyte -- Ideal for Construction, Architecture, & Healthcare Industries
Egnyte’s platform is ideal for the construction and manufacturing industries, and unlike most, it has an on-premise deployment. It’s also great for large file sizes, like cad files and images. People who use Egnyte have probably been using it for a long time, and may be reluctant to switch to a new system. On the negative side, Egnyte lacks some security features such as geofencing, individual security permissions and file-level encryption.

Google Drive -- Great Document Collaboration Features & User Experience
Google Drive is typically selected by organizations already using other Google products in the G-Suite, like Gmail. It’s super simple to use and setup, and is often a great choice for smaller organizations and startups. There are limited IT management capabilities, so it’s more of a consumer product -- not geared towards enterprises.

With all of the different options available, it can be difficult to determine the right enterprise cloud file sharing system that makes the most sense for your organization.

For help navigating through the choices, talk to a Withum cloud consultant or contact us at 240-406-9960 to get your questions answered.

Gartner has long followed the space and they issue a Magic Quadrant ever year.

Topics: Digital Transformation, file shares

Daniel Cohen-Dumani

Daniel Cohen-Dumani a Partner and Market Leader of Microsoft Solutions and Services at Withum. He has more than 20 years of experience in the field of computer science and software development. He is a frequent speaker at SharePoint conferences and user groups, and a recognized SharePoint and Office 365 subject matter expert.

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