What to look for in business cloud storage and file-sharing services

Picking business cloud storage and file-sharing services is tough, but there are a lot of options to choose from, including on-premises services.

Many employees use cloud services to get work done, but if your company has a business cloud storage service, you can worry a little bit less about where data is stored, how secure it is and who's managing users' accounts.

There are numerous business cloud storage and file-sharing services available. Some consumer services, such as Dropbox, offer enterprise versions that give you some control over the stored data. Other services, such as Box, have been enterprise-focused from the outset and come with many security and management features. If those options don't cut the mustard for your company, on-premises file-sharing services may be the ticket. They let you rest easy knowing where all your company's data is stored.

How do I choose a business cloud storage and file-sharing service?

When you're picking a cloud storage option for your company, it's important to look at security, manageability and users' needs. There are plenty of business cloud storage options to choose from -- such as Box, Citrix's ShareFile, Dropbox for Business, Google Drive, Egnyte and SugarSync -- but each service brings something different to the table. First find out which features come with which service. For example, Box supports encryption for file transfers and stored files, and when you use ShareFile with StorageZones, you can choose to keep files on-premises or store them in the cloud. It's also critical that you read the provider's policies because each service has different rules about its ability to access files stored on their servers.

What security features come with Box?

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Box has emerged as a primary cloud storage service for enterprises with added security features. It uses single sign-on, encryption and key storage, and it provides different levels of access based on users' roles. Box's approach to security assumes that data will be shared, so it needs to be protected before it's overshared. Box also integrates with mobile device management (MDM) tools, which extends MDM functionality to data stored in Box on mobile devices. There are seven permissions layers around files and folders that you can integrate with federated authentication services. Box also has an administration console so you can set controls over password length, who can read and write to files, how outside users can interact with files, and who can share links and collaborate with whom.

What are the advantages of on-premises business cloud storage and file-sharing services?

The number of cloud storage and file-sharing providers with on-prem options is growing steadily. An on-premises service helps you avoid data ownership, compliance and retention concerns that come standard with public cloud services. It also offers mobile access, which users need for work, and it lets you keep track of all your company's data. Vendors of these services include Accellion, Novell, OwnCloud, Oxygen Cloud and WatchDox.

This was first published in May 2013

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