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Beyond Dropbox: Enterprise cloud storage alternatives

Personal cloud storage and file-sharing services offer an easy way to store documents and access them from anywhere, but they lack the management tools IT administrators need.

In response, many enterprise cloud storage services

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have emerged, offering ways for admins to control what's happening in the cloud, without hampering the convenient, mobile access to data that users enjoy. File servers may also be an option -- even in the cloud era.

Benefits of enterprise cloud storage

Because consumers can actually get storage cheap -- or even free -- it's crucial for enterprise cloud storage services such as Box to offer additional security. Corporate-focused services provide customers the security they need, plus collaboration features and better integration with corporate directory services.

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What stalls enterprise private cloud adoption?

Of course Box isn't the only cloud-based storage offering. Some major companies are in the same market, including Microsoft, Apple, Google and Dropbox. Dropbox even has an enterprise version of its cloud file-sharing service called Dropbox for Teams. So, just how can an enterprise-focused cloud service compete with consumer offerings?

An important factor is in the appearance of platform independence. For example, given the fact that Google is behind Android, who would expect Google Drive to work as well for iOS devices as it does for Android?

Nevertheless, the files are stored in the cloud, beyond control of the corporate IT administrator.

Return of the file server?

Some vendors offer file access through an on-premises file server that IT manages. An example of such a service is Novell Filr.

Services that are based on an old file server may, at first sight, look completely misplaced in the cloud era. But there are some benefits of creating an access-from-everywhere system that is based on in-house file servers. The server is on the data center, so IT can manage security policies and other settings that matter for the environment. That is why there might be a bright future after all for services that offer access from everywhere, but are IT-managed.

This was first published in November 2012

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