Give Users the Productivity Tools They Want and Secure Your Data Too

Applications like Google Drive, Box, and Dropbox combine an intuitive look and feel with convenient, cross-platform compatibility. Users can access files from any device, 24/7, which makes the apps great for small business and personal use.

But for large organizations with a need for top-notch data security, the same applications present a dilemma. With growing frequency, employees are using them to share files with or without company authorization. At the same time, the platforms don’t offer sufficient protection for sensitive company intelligence or client data.

For enterprises, this situation raises a critical question: how can you provide your users an interface that helps them stay productive, but also keeps your data out of the public cloud?

We’re about to show you a way to achieve both. But first, let’s examine some of the business drivers behind end user reliance on file sync-and-share applications in the public cloud.

Why users turn to the public cloud

It’s a reality of business in 2014: management faces enormous pressure from customers and partners to perform with increasing speed and agility. For end users, that translates into “get more done with fewer tools and less support.”

What’s a marketing associate to do when it’s 7:00 PM on Monday and her latest project, which remains unfinished, is due at 8:00 AM the following morning? It’s well past time to leave the office, so she decides to complete the work at home. How does she do it? She uploads the production file to Google Drive so she can pull it up on her personal device later.

For this user, Google Drive offers a simple fix to a difficult business challenge. She’s not deliberately trying to jeopardize company data – and, in this case, her project probably isn’t all that sensitive – but she might still be violating company policy, whether unwittingly or not. And what if she was working with sensitive data, like client financials or unreleased product sheets? The consequences of a data breach could affect the company’s bottom line.

As this example illustrates, users turn to the public cloud because it helps them get their work done. If an employer’s tools don’t give them the same convenience and flexibility, they’ll take matters into their own hands.

Same time-saving tools, lower risk exposure

For IT managers looking to reduce the likelihood of the above scenario, the most promising solution involves three critical steps:

  1. Establish procedures for syncing and sharing of company files; these procedures would, of course, disallow file transfers that use the public cloud.
  2. Provide users with the same convenient, easy-to-use functionality they enjoy with apps like Dropbox and Google Drive.
  3. Deliver that functionality on servers the company controls – in other words, an on premise solution with no exposure to the public cloud.

With applications like Novell Filr, enterprises can deliver a file sync-and-share experience that’s identical, if not better, than what users enjoy with consumer-grade cloud services. They’ll get shared network folders they can access from any device. The difference – and it’s a big one – is that the files reside on company servers, not in the public cloud where they’re subject to unauthorized access.

The way users see it, free cloud apps offer a convenient workaround when they’re faced with outdated or limited support from enterprise software systems. However, for IT and management, those “free” tools present a potentially devastating security risk. Exploring new ways to align user needs, modern productivity tools, and your organization’s security imperatives is a compelling business challenge.

Thankfully, it’s an eminently solvable one, too.

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