Friday, September 24, 2021

Best Cloud File Sharing Service

One of the most popular cloud computing use cases for organizations of all sizes is file sharing and synchronization.

Cloud file sharing and synchronization services enable users and organizations to easily load, store, and access files on a service from a cloud company. Synchronization can keep local, on-premises versions in sync with the cloud. Cloud file sharing services have emerged over the past decade to become mainstays for many IT users, sometimes augmenting and often replacing the need for on-premises local file storage sharing.

There is no shortage of different cloud file sharing services for users to choose from, ranging from those that are tied closely to a specific platform or cloud vendor, to options that users can fully manage and run on any cloud they want.

Making Cloud Services Work for Your Enterprise

What is a Cloud Storage and File Sharing Service?

A cloud storage and file sharing service is provided by a third-party vendor that specializes in cloud platform development or management. In this model of storage and file sharing, important corporate data is no longer stored primarily on localized computers and servers. Instead, remote cloud-based servers hold all of that data and are updated in real-time through cloud processing and upgrades and optimizations directed by the managed service provider (MSP). 

How Does It Work?

Cloud storage and file sharing services work through two main models: they either partner with an existing cloud vendor and manage your data needs on that cloud, or they use their own cloud infrastructure to manage a client’s file needs. Regardless of what cloud platform is used, the cloud computing model of file storage and sharing typically includes several interconnected remote cloud servers where all data is backed up, stored, and updated so that remote users in a variety of locations can access the same information. In most cloud storage and file sharing approaches, client users can update file data through the following interfaces: website access points, desktop apps, mobile apps, and office productivity suites connected via the cloud.

How to Choose a Cloud File Sharing Service

When looking to choose a cloud file sharing service, there are several things that users should consider:

Collaboration: Simply sharing files isn’t always sufficient; often there is a need to collaborate, and as such, there are capabilities within multiple tools that help with inline commenting and workflow.

Security and Access Control: Data is precious, so having the right type of access control that can integrate with an organization’s existing policies is a key feature.

Integrated Applications: Often there is a need to preview and work on files that are shared, which is why it’s important to have integrations with the applications your organization uses.

In this Datamation top companies list, we spotlight the vendors that offer the top 10 cloud file sharing services:

Amazon WorkDocsAWS

Value proposition for potential buyers. Amazon WorkDocs pairs the global availability and reliability of Amazon Web Services with file sharing, providing a fully managed service that can scale to meet the needs of global enterprises.

Key values/differentiators:

  • A key feature of Amazon WorkDocs is the ability to create and edit Microsoft Office documents directly in the browser.
  • Among the key differentiators are the strong administrative controls for access control and visibility, including a real-time activity feed to see what file is being accessed and by whom.
  • While the service is cloud-based, the Amazon WorkDocs Drive feature provides desktop integration, such that Windows and macOS users can directly launch and store content via Windows File Explorer and the Mac Finder.
  • Collaboration and workflow are part of the solution, with the integrated Approval Workflow feature that enables an administrator to assign tasks and approve completed items.

Apple iCloud Driveapple

Value proposition for potential buyers. Apple iCloud drive is likely only a good fit for Apple iOS and macOS users, enabling cloud-based file storage and sharing.

Key values/differentiators:

  • The iCloud Drive is a desktop interface for file sharing and synchronization to Apple’s iCloud service.
  • Directly integrated as part of Apple’s operating systems, this tool makes it easier to get started for existing Apple users.
  • Full synchronization of files is included across connected devices, such as iPhone, iPad, and macOS.
  • While Apple users are the primary use case, there is an iCloud for Windows that extends the service out to Windows PCs.

Boxbox

Value proposition for potential buyers. Box is no longer just a single service; rather, it’s a platform of multiple capabilities for organizations of any size that want to tap into cloud content management.

Key values/differentiators:

  • A key differentiator for Box is the broad support and integration for many different enterprise applications, including Office 365, Salesforce, and Google Suite.
  • Box also provides an approval-based workflow system that can be used to help facilitate business processes.
  • Security at Box goes beyond basic access control, with the Box Keysafe feature providing full encryption key management features for organizations.
  • Going a step further is the Box Skill service, which brings machine learning to cloud-based file sharing, so users can derive insights from their stored content.

Dropboxdropbox

Value proposition for potential buyers. Dropbox for Business is a great option for workgroups and organizations that are looking for a file sharing service that provides lots of management, security, and productivity options.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Among the key differentiators for Dropbox for business are the file recovery capabilities, which enable an administrator to recover a deleted file.
  • For security and compliance for synchronized desktop files, the service has a remote wipe feature to delete files from hardware that has been lost or stolen.
  • Full administration dashboard is another big win for Dropbox, with an interface that provides visibility into file sharing activities.
  • The tool offers integration with Dropbox Paper, which is a collaborative document and workflow service that provides a good option for collaboration.

Egnyteegnyte

Value proposition for potential buyers. Egnyte is a good choice for small to mid-sized organizations looking for file sharing tools with collaboration features.

Key values/differentiators:

  • A key differentiator for Egnyte is the platform’s robust reporting and auditing for file and folder level activity and access.
  • The Egnyte Desktop Sync feature is a useful capability that provides synchronization of files that users have download to a local system.
  • Egnyte also offers integration with Microsoft Office 365, so users can access, share, and store documents.
  • Of note are Egnyte’s mobile clients, which provide a native experience that is optimized for mobile devices.

FilecloudFilecloud

Value proposition for potential buyers. Filecloud is a good fit for organizations of any size that want to either self-host or have a fully managed file sharing service.

Key values/differentiators:

  • A key differentiator for Filecloud is the ability for an organization to have a custom domain with full branding to provide a very tailored experience for users.
  • Another unique attribute is the platform’s integration with Microsoft NTFS and Active Directory, which enable a company to extend existing security policies and access control to Filecloud.
  • Security offerings are strong in Filecloud, including data leak prevention and ransomware detection capabilities.
  • Integration with Office 365 as well as Microsoft Outlook is part of the platform, enabling users to automatically upload attachments to FileCloud and share them as a link in emails.

Google Drivegoogle cloud

Value proposition for potential buyers. Google Drive Enterprise is a great fit for businesses that are already using Google Suite and are looking for an easy onramp to cloud file sharing.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Google Drive Enterprise goes beyond what the personal edition of Google Drive provides, adding in integrated workflow capabilities for task assignments and approvals.
  • Support for both Google’s own suite of office tools as well as Microsoft Office is a core part of the offering.
  • A key differentiator for Google Drive is the platform’s machine learning-based search that provides a more intelligent way to find files based on context.
  • Machine Learning is also used to create curated workspaces for users, based on most frequently accessed content.

Microsoft OneDrive for BusinessMicrosoft

Value proposition for potential buyers. For organizations that have already standardized on Microsoft tools like Office 365 and Outlook, OneDrive is a natural and easy choice for file sharing and synchronization.

Key values/differentiators:

  • While many file sharing services integrate with Office 365, the experience with OneDrive is more seamless and fluid.
  • The mobile app extends OneDrive to both iOS and Android devices.
  • OneDrive is available for both Windows and macOS systems and can even extend out to Xbox gaming consoles.
  • Security is also a strong feature, with the ability to recover files and block potential malware attacks.

Nextcloudnextcloud

Value proposition for potential buyers. Nextcloud is a good option for organizations that want to control their file sharing cloud and deploy it wherever they want.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Nextcloud is an open source-based file sharing technology that can be deployed as a self-hosted option by organizations of any size.
  • Nextcloud itself does not currently provide a fully managed service, so it’s up to users to choose a cloud provider or to install it on their own; on-premises or with a hosting provider are possible choices.
  • There are desktop and mobile clients as well as a web interface to access data.
  • Integration with existing FTP, Windows Network Drive, SharePoint, and NFS data storage devices enables an easy on-ramp for file sharing and collaboration.

OpenText HightailOpenText Hightail

Value proposition for potential buyers.HighTail is well suited for larger organizations looking for an enterprise data file sharing and collaboration service.

Key values/differentiators:

  • OpenText acquired Hightail in 2018; the company had been known from 2004 until 2013 as YouSendIt.
  • HighTail integrates collaboration capabilities that can be used for basic workflows with partners.
  • The system enables administrators to assign tasks such that follow-up and due dates are part of the collaboration process.
  • The integrated approval system is a key value of the platform, enabling a workflow with authorization for content items.

What Can Cloud Storage Do For You?

Improved Remote User Experience

Remote work has grown in popularity, particularly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and orders to quarantine. Even as government mandates die down, many businesses and their employees are vying for a continued work-from-home model. Cloud storage and file sharing devices make the remote work model manageable, ensuring that all users have access to the same data, file versions, and collaborative projects in real time, regardless of where they’re working.

Device Flexibility

Certain company files should only be accessed on secured company computers, but others might work for on-the-go user access. Cloud storage and file sharing make it possible for users to access cloud data from any device that can download appropriate cloud applications. With a company cloud model, users can make crucial updates from their desks or from their smartphones while commuting.

Cloud Scalability and Cost Savings

On-premises servers and other devices often require regular costly hardware and compliance upgrades. Keeping up with a maintenance schedule and its costs can become tiresome for many organizations, but cloud storage and file management ease some of those pains. With a cloud MSP and real-time processing, data is constantly updated, so you know exactly how much storage you need and changes you need to make to optimize your infrastructure. And with a cloud model, it’s easy to subscribe to additional managed storage space from a cloud vendor, rather than investing in and waiting for the delivery of needed storage hardware.

Cloud Security

Cloud storage and file management enable several cloud security features, like user access controls, application performance management, and other cloud-enabled security monitoring features. Cloud security is typically managed by security professionals and applications from the cloud provider. Combined with the real-time processing data that cloud infrastructure provides, companies with cloud security can typically assess and fight against security threats more quickly than those with legacy security tools.

Improved User Experience for Consumers

Although many cloud services directly benefit a company and its employees, several others improve the user experience for customers. This has been particularly evident in the entertainment and digital media industry, with music, television, and film media being streamed over cloud-hosted streaming platforms like Spotify and Netflix. Users now have real-time, subscription-based access to a much larger variety of media, whereas before, they primarily accessed media through individually purchased discs.

Learn More: What is Digital Transformation?

Vendor Comparison Chart

Key Differentiators

Pricing (per user/month)

Amazon WorkDocs

Fully managed service on the AWS public cloud

$5 / 1 TB storage

Apple iCloud Drive

Directly integrated with Apple products

50GB: $0.99

200GB: $2.99

2TB: $9.99

Box

Broad support and integration with enterprise applications

Starter: $5 / 100GB

Business: $15 / Unlimited storage

Dropbox

File recovery and security access controls

Standard: $12.50 / 3TB

Advanced: $20 / unlimited storage

Egnyte

File activity and reporting features.

Office: $8 /  5 TB storage

Business: $20 / 10 TB storage

Filecloud

Custom domain support for branded shared file portals.

self-hosted:

$4.20

Online:

Standard: $10 / 1TB storage

Enterprise: $15 / custom domain support

Google Drive Enterprise

Machine learning-powered search and categorization for workspaces.

$8 + $1 per 25 GB

Microsoft OneDrive for Business

Deep integration with Office 365

Plan 1: $5 / 1TB

Plan 2: $10/ unlimited storage

Nextcloud

Open source solution that is self-hosted

Contact vendor

OpenText Hightail

Integrated approval system for document workflow.

Pro: $12 

 file send limit 25GB / unlimited storage space

Teams: $24 

file send limit 50 GB/

unlimited storage space

Business: $36/

file send limit 100GB

unlimited storage space

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