EFSS is a service that allows users to save files in cloud or on-premises storage and then access them on other desktop and mobile computing devices. However, EFSS is a market where many of the products are approaching maturation and the need for solutions is becoming an important issue for organizations to consider, we thought we would devote some of our blog space to discussing the issues surrounding this topic.

According to Gartner, “EFSS offerings enable modern user productivity and collaboration scenarios for the creation of a digital workplace. More specifically, “EFSS refers to a range of on-premises or cloud-based capabilities that enable individuals to synchronize and share documents, photos, videos and files across multiple devices, such as smartphones, tablets and PCs. File sharing can be within the organization, as well as externally (e.g., with partners and customers) or on a mobile device as data sharing among apps. Security and collaboration support are critical capabilities of EFSS to address enterprise priorities.”

In short, EFSS enables companies to manage document sharing among its users. In the past, this was typically handled with a central content management store model, which was a complex system that the service would log into to manage changes and versions. The shift to EFSS, on the other hand, allows for a more distributed model where different groups and employees are able to edit and distribute files and content as needed – including to edge devices like tablets and phones. It allows users to not only view those files, but also to edit them in real time.

In the past, much of the file syncing and sharing taking place was driven by the users themselves and was popularized and accomplished utilizing 3rd party solutions such as Dropbox and Box.com, etc.. The primary drawback to those products is that content is distributed outside of the corporate firewall and is “out there” in the cloud and far less secure than most organizations would want. In response, storage vendors realized the need for a solution that was much more secure and could be owned and managed by the enterprise. This has led to the rise of EFSS.

What to look for when selecting an EFSS Solution:

We currently have customers implementing and utilizing EFSS, and here are some things to consider if your organization is about to head down this path.

  1. Security – As discussed, this issue was the primary driver for the development of EFSS and is the most important thing to consider. Even if you ultimately choose a cloud-based service, make sure you read the contract carefully and verify ownership of the shared content as well as ensure you have Administrator rights to manage the shared content.
  2. Data Protection/Back-up – if new content and/or edits on the fly are being generated, then you’ll need to ensure your data is protected.
  3. Mobility – This is another primary driver of the move to EFSS. Any company who has a mobile workforce needs to at least start evaluating EFSS sooner rather than later as employees on devices need to be able to share and edit seamlessly. They will find ways to do this on their own if the organization doesn’t address it officially. Any product you choose needs to be able to handle mobile devices easily and effectively.
  4. Flexibility – You need to have the ability to configure and deploy EFSS to align with the security approach and established policies of your organization.
  5. Features – Beyond the items listed above, you’ll want to look for the bells and whistles features that distinguish the various products. There are a lot of different features out there including different user interfaces, file sync frequency, device-specific access, editing features, etc.

We think file sync and share is becoming more than just a “nice-to-have” for organizations. If you’re not sure that it’s needed at your company, perhaps you should consider surveying users to determine how many are already utilizing the 3rd Party consumer versions. Don’t be surprised if you find out they’re being used far more than you suspected.

We’re interested to hear your opinions or experience with EFSS. Let us know what you think or any questions you might have with the comment box below.

You can always contact us directly at storageguy@thinksis.com and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @think_sis.