There is an increasing need for enterprises to provide a secure platform for employees, customers, and partners to collaborate and share files today. Employees work at different times, in different time zones, and several times work while being on the road. In such a scenario, a secure sharing platform becomes essential not only as a single place to store digital artefacts, but also to allow an employee to continue work seamlessly from where his/her co-worker may have left off. An online sharing platform also avoids confusion due to a multiplicity of email attachments and eliminates duplicate copies of files on different systems.
A good file sharing and collaboration solution brings with it the order and precision that is usually associated with source code repositories, but with a simple and user-friendly interface. The cloud as the place of storage is ideal for such a need. However, security is a big concern for most enterprises. To alleviate this concern, a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) typically acts as a filter between the enterprise and the cloud. Selecting the right EFSS solution is not easy; an enterprise has to consider many key aspects like:
- Privacy of the data stored in the cloud: This is the most important aspect to consider. If the files are not confidential in nature, it may be OK to have the cloud vendor possess the encryption keys. If they are confidential in nature, then the enterprises should possess the encryption keys for the encrypted files.
- Cloud agnosticism: This is the second most key capability to consider. Enterprises should not get locked down to a particular cloud vendor just because of the EFSS solution. It should have the ability to work with any storage platform.
- Scalability: A truly enterprise class EFSS solution should be able to handle 100,000+ employees. The architecture should allow to start small and scale horizontally when the need arises.
- Private space or public space: While sharing a file in the EFSS platform, the user may upload the file into the EFSS platform only to share the file across his/her own computing devices but may choose not to share the file with any co-workers. This requires the EFSS solution to have a concept of a "private space" for each subscriber — while still allowing a public space for sharing with other users. The EFSS platform selected should provide an option to the enterprise to choose either option.
- Groups for collaboration: An effective EFSS platform should provide mechanisms to create groups of employees for collaboration and file sharing. This collaboration and sharing should be limited to only the group members.
- Sharing with password and expiry: There will be occasions when an employee has to share a file with someone who is not a group member. On such an occasion, the EFSS platform should allow for a link to be sent for sharing. The owner of the file should have the option to password-protect the file if needed. When sharing a file with someone who is not configured in the EFSS platform, it is also advisable to give time-bound access. More advanced solutions may even provide an option that limits the recipient's ability to do anything other than view the file – making it impossible to download, copy, paste and print.
- Support for multiple namespaces: In many instances, enterprises want a solution, which will provide sharing and collaboration with customers or partners. In this context, support for multiple namespaces (or AD domains) will come in handy.
- Access to the EFSS Platform: A modern EFSS platform should provide access from mobile devices, desktops, and web browsers. When using laptops, and desktops the platform should provide a mechanism to automatically synchronize from a local workspace.
- Performance: Performance bottlenecks has the potential to slow down adoption and force users to go back to old and inefficient ways. Since, the data is stored in the cloud, caching of frequently used files is crucial. A fully searchable text index is a necessity.
While implementing an EFSS solution has become easier with the cloud, there are many factors to consider before locking yourself in with a solution. I would love to get your feedback on this blog and your experiences with EFSS solutions in the market.