Deploying cloud file-sharing services: Five steps to success

Start your file-sharing implementation by doing a pilot and testing other systems that integrate with your cloud service.

No matter how well one plans an implementation, unanticipated factors can slow or disrupt a deployment of file-sharing services. You can mitigate that risk by taking a few crucial steps.

Do a pilot

Roll out file-sharing systems to a small group initially. The pilot test group can help identify problems, such as incorrect access controls and incorrectly configured devices, without disrupting the work of a large group of users.

The pilot group should include users with a range of access rights and functional requirements. For example, some users should work in remote offices, some should collaborate with users outside the company, and some should work with sensitive information subject to stricter-than-average controls.

Test your infrastructure

In addition to testing functionality of file-sharing services with a pilot test group, test the performance of on-premises servers, hybrid connection devices and cloud storage. Tests should include users in different locations so you can measure the latency to each location. Changes to the network may be required if delays are too long when transferring files to remote locations. Also, simulate varying loads on the file-sharing services to better understand performance under anticipated loads once the system is in general use.

Use file-sharing to replace other systems

File-sharing services share some features and functionality with backup services and collaboration tools. It may be possible to reduce the dependency on other services by exploiting features of the file-sharing system.

For example, the file-sharing system might be able to replace some backup jobs. This could be especially helpful if users can easily retrieve files from a synchronized file store rather than submitting a request to IT personnel to retrieve a file from backup. File-sharing services are not backup systems and cannot replace enterprise backups, but when used effectively, they may enable more self-service operations for file recovery.

File-sharing systems support basic collaboration features. When they are deployed, other collaboration tools, such as Microsoft SharePoint, may no longer seem necessary. Again, these systems will not always replace collaboration tools, but they may provide sufficient features to meet casual user needs for collaboration tools. This would allow a business to reduce the number of licenses required for the collaboration tool.

In addition, file-sharing services may allow you to decommission other file services, such as Network File System and file transfer protocol. The service may not completely replace these services, but it may reduce the need for them.

Integrate with MDM

File-sharing systems designed to work with mobile devices have some features found in mobile device management systems. For example, both can remotely wipe content on mobile devices. Consider if and how you would use both systems to manage content on mobile devices. If you do use both, you may need to consolidate information in both systems' logs to have an accurate audit trail.

Do vulnerability testing

Private and hybrid file-sharing systems should be subjected to vulnerability testing. A file-sharing application is an obvious target for attackers seeking access to sensitive data. Log activity on the file-sharing application to detect security events such as changes to permissions or configuration.

Consumer cloud storage services have demonstrated the value of synchronization and file-sharing services. It is not surprising that users have come to expect similar functionality from enterprise storage systems as well. Cloud-based, on-premises and hybrid solutions can meet a range of enterprise requirements, but successful implementations require attention to security controls and monitoring.

This was first published in May 2014

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