Five Tips to Efficiently Share Files in Your Company

Posted by ownCloud GmbH – 3. July 2018

The simple access to all company data via a central platform allows for better productivity, flexibility and, above all, security in day-to-day business. Enterprise file sync and sharing solutions (EFSS) are, therefore, being used in more and more companies. However, if you really want to run an EFSS software successfully, there are  some important points that should be considered.

For many companies, the exchange of important data and documents is still a complex and time-consuming problem. Access to the internal network drive from the outside only works via VPN connections with low transmission speed, while access from smartphones or tablets is often impossible and the classic exchanging files by email is not an uptodate solution due to version conflicts, limited file sizes and lack of security, as well as many more risks.

One central concept for data storage and sharing with enterprise file sharing solutions is becoming more and more common, and not just for security reasons. The modern working world, with its demand for more digitization and mobility, forces companies to play an active role in shaping this change. In order to be able to work productively with increasing amounts of data, data exchange must be fast, simple, independent of devices and controllable.

EFSS solutions enable exactly this;universal access to all files through a central file access layer, regardless of whether they are on premises, in the cloud or distributed within the existing architecture. Files can remain in their original location while the IT department gains authority of all data, including control of the entire life cycle of a file.  The location of a file is always known, as well as, who has access to it, who has accessed it in the past and who has shared it with whom and when. Users can access, synchronize and share all files via a central interface from their workstation or mobily – whether the files are located in SharePoint, on a Windows network drive or in the cloud.

The benefits of a centralized file-sharing solution  come after the software is integrated into company-wide internal processes and security and compliances are fully met. In order to achieve the benefits, a number of important points should be observed:

1. Management Must be Involved

Many times, decision-makers within an organization regard enterprise file sharing as a purely technical topic and consequently hand over responsibility to their IT department. Although this approach does justice for all technical aspects of EFSS, it often means that the IT department retains sole control over file exchange. Therefore,  while a company theoretically has a sustainable solution, employees are still using emails, USB sticks or even printed paper in order to exchange sensitive files and putting the data at risk. In order for internal collaboration to improve in the long term, the topic of data exchange must be an issue at the management level and should be enforced throughout the entire company.

It often makes sense for management, the Management Board or the Supervisory Board to define their own security criteria in order to prevent access to employees in the IT department.

2. Every Cloud Needs its Privacy

Storing data on public servers is considered to be a flexible and scalable solution, especially when dealing with particularly large amounts of data. However, in many cases, using a public cloud means less control over the storage location, meaning you lose  an amount of security and data protection. Data that is especially critical to your business and, therefore, worthy of protection, should remain exclusively on your own servers, either on premises or in private data centers.

The ideal solution would be to set up a hybrid cloud infrastructure. By connecting public servers with private elements flexibility, scalability and elasticity are provided, while critical applications and data remain under your control at all times.

3. Version Control for the Best Possible Overview

If several employees are involved in a project, it is important that everyone involved is informed about the current status of the project at all times and that they can trace all changes made. In many businesses, the joint processing of a file still, very often, takes place by email. This usually leads to dozens of versions and copies of the same file being created – and employees often find it difficult to keep track of things.

EFSS systems work fundamentally differently. With EFSS, every employee who has access rights to the file will always have the latest version, be able to add new content and share their work with others. Editing tools also allow users to edit a file simultaneously and to track changes in real time.

ownCloud, for example, contains a simple system for controlling the versioning of files. It creates backups of files and displays their history. Each file can then be immediately reset to an earlier version if needed and changes made at intervals of more than two minutes are saved in data/[user]/versions.

4. End-to-End Encryption that Deserves the Name

Companies should never compromise on the security of their data. End-to-end encryption of files is a  must. However, this is only really effective if the encryption process happens at the right place, i.e. directly from the sender and the recipient of a file. This way, the data remains protected even in the event of unauthorized intrusions into the server by third parties . Access can also be controlled centrally and transparently;only those employees  who have the corresponding “keys” have access authorization. For providers such as ownCloud, such “key pairs” can even be set to a predefined number of employees. This tells the administrator how many employees have access to certain files.

5. Automation Through Classification

The classification of company data enables automated data protection. Enterprise file sharing systems, such as ownCloud, allow you to create specific rules for certain files or folders. This allows administrators and users the ability to decide for themselves which file can be accessed, for how long, which user groups have access, or when a file should be deleted.

Kill Two Birds with One Stone: Increase Data Security and Productivity Simultaneously

Enterprise file sharing is a modern way to manage unstructured company data in a more controlled, central and flexible way, while also meeting the growing need for the utilization of all available data. However, the safety factors should always come first. If you want to protect large amounts of data effectively, you must first have an overview and then have control over it. This is only possible with an on-premises EFSS solution, like ownCloud, which provides easy central access to all popular data storage locations, as well as, ensures the definition of  security at file level. Increased data security goes hand in hand with a significant increase in productivity.

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