5 Things to Look for in a Business File-Sharing Solution

In today’s business world, file sharing is imperative to your success. It is essential whether your employees have to work together on urgent projects, manage remote teams or collaborate with independent contractors. The most cost-effective, efficient and secure way to do so is via the cloud.

But when it comes to choosing a cloud-based file-sharing solution, how do you choose the one that’s best for you?

This article will address five tips about choosing the appropriate cloud-based file-sharing solution to ensure your employees don’t rely on unprotected collaboration services to do their jobs.

1. Demand high availability.

The service you choose should have a high-availability service-level agreement (SLA) – at least 99.9%, and probably higher (99.99%, or even 99.999%). The solution should include automatic failover during outages to ensure that your employees can always access their files and continue collaborating without loss of productivity.

2. Check for unlimited scalability.

Because you are only choosing among cloud solutions, this one should be a no-brainer – after all, one of the key benefits of cloud apps is their ability to scale – but always check to make sure. Your solution should offer support to an unlimited number of users to work simultaneously, so it can adapt as your business grows. Avoid solutions that impose file-volume upload limits, which encourage your employees to go rogue and use free consumer file-sharing services that allow larger file uploads.

3. Insist upon a good experience for users, and central administration for IT.

This one is very important. If an app is difficult to use, your employees will reject it and go hiding within shadow IT. Choose a file-sharing solution that is easy to learn and use. Your employees should intuitively be able to share and upload files via email, mobile apps and web browsers of choice. They should also be able to access and edit standard Microsoft Office files – Word, Excel and PowerPoint – stored in the solution from their desktop or mobile devices with Microsoft® Office 365.

Also, you want a solution that allows you to centrally set access restrictions, revise policies and even lock access after projects end or users are terminated. As an IT administrator, you will be able to view all the company’s files and folders at once using a shared folder structure; view files across multiple domains in a single interface; and view all files, whether stored in the cloud or on premises. Sometimes policy or access changes need to be made immediately, after hours or on the fly, making it vital that your file-sharing solution supports centralized administration and immediate access to settings from the administrator’s desktop as well as mobile device(s).

4. Demand military-grade security.

This might seem like too much, but it’s actually critical for SMBs today, considering they’re prime targets – 43% of cyber attacks go after SMBs. There are several aspects to this.

First, you need user security. That means supporting multifactor authentication with password policies that integrate with your Active Directory, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), or single-sign-on systems. You need to be able to assign internal and external user roles with full auditing capabilities. And you need to be able to set permissions not just for folders, but for individual documents.

Then there’s device security. Your solution should have password enforcement and authentication policies with 256-bit on-device encryption for local files at rest. You should also look for a solution that offers a complementary solution with native mobile device management (MDM) capabilities such as being able to remote wipe and pin devices that have been lost or stolen.

You should also insist in robust network security. This means using HTTPS or FTP-ES for secure communication, SSL/TLS protocol for all data transfer sessions and 256-bit encryption for all data in transit.

5. Evaluate the quality of vendor support.

Don’t forget to check on how – and how well – the vendor supports its customers. Are there telephone, email and self-service support options? Don’t settle for just one or two out of the three options. Is on-demand support available during regular office hours in every location that your business operates in? Given how many people continue to work after hours, is there 24/7 support for you and your users to utilize? Also make sure that you get acceptable SLAs regarding the time needed to support any issues that arise.

In summary

Not doing anything about file sharing in your business is not an option. There are too many reasons that your employees will want to share and collaborate on files. The inexpensive consumer-grade options are tempting when no business-class standard is in place, but a secure file-sharing system is worth the investment. Make sure to follow the five pieces of advice here to get a cloud file-sharing system that is intuitive to use, easy to integrate and absolutely secure.

Interested in secure and intelligent file sharing from CenturyLink®?