Dropbox is one of the most popular services when it comes to public cloud computing and it has become very popular among consumers, mainly due to its ease of use and ability to be cross platform. There is a lot of competition to provide Dropbox like solution to the enterprise world. However, is Dropbox really […]
Dropbox is one of the most popular services when it comes to public cloud computing and it has become very popular among consumers, mainly due to its ease of use and ability to be cross platform. There is a lot of competition to provide Dropbox like solution to the enterprise world. However, is Dropbox really the best solution for businesses? How does Dropbox cope when documents have to be in external public servers in order to be shared with third parties like contractors, consumers, or other businesses? We cannot deny that there are some features that Dropbox lacks for optimal use in the business environment. Private cloud services would be the right solution for business that need the security and data control that Dropbox does not currently offer.
What is private cloud?
A public cloud consists of a service or a set of services that have been bought by an organization and then delivered through the internet through a third party provider. The client’s application and IT infrastructure (data centre and servers) are hosted by the cloud service provider at the cloud provider’s premise. The infrastructure is shared between several businesses; however, the applications and data usage of each application is logically segregated in order to ensure that only authorized users have access.
A private cloud can be referred to as an enterprise cloud or internal cloud. As the name suggests, a private cloud is provides all features of cloud such as access from anywhere but it doesn't share resources with other companies . Since it resides at the client’s location, the client has more control over the infrastructure. It as an extension of an enterprise’s traditional data center that has been optimized to provide processing power and storage capacity for a variety of functions.
So which features should a complete enterprise private cloud solution have?
Access and Monitoring Controls
Monitoring is an area that receives a lot of attention mainly because System Administrators should be able to know when, where and by whom files are being accessed on their private cloud. This was quite simple to do with internal infrastructure but when mobile devices and the need for remote access are thrown into the mix, it becomes more difficult. A good enterprise file sharing solution should have a web-based Admin panel that allows admins to manage user activity, current usage, and storage capacity in real-time. The panel should also enable quick access configurations and security settings for the users.
The whole idea of cloud computing mostly revolves around mobile devices. Mobile devices can easily be stolen so theft is a pressing concern. Before remote access and cloud connectivity, the data stored on laptops or mobile phones would be out of reach from IT professionals once the device was stolen.
The ideal private cloud solution should have tools that provide Admins with real time visibility of all the devices currently connected to the cloud, a view of data access activity, and also allow them to send push notifications to the device owners if necessary. In the event of theft, Admins should also be able to remotely block or wipe mobile devices in order to prevent unauthorized access to data.
Secure Storage and Encryption
Most companies opt not to use public cloud solutions mainly because of the security risk posed by the sharing of resources and infrastructure . Almost all cloud services at least encrypt their data transfer process using 256-bit SSL encryption. Endpoint encryption of select files and folders helps in the prevention of data leaks in case a mobile device is lost or stolen.
Other key features to look out for include;
Integration with Existing Enterprise Systems
A lot of businesses use identity management services such as Active Directory. A private cloud solution should use any existing identify services than creating a parallel identity systems. Integrating with existing systems would make IT admins life much easier. Additionally, integration with Sharepoint, outlook and similar systems would be extremely useful for the businesses.
Customization and Branding
Due to policy requirement, businesses would like to customize terms of service, and branding to give a consistent experience to its users. Also businesses would prefer to use their own logo and use the company domain name.
What Are the Available Options?
Below are three on premise cloud options that are business friendly and offer various features that can fit your business needs.
Option 1: OwnCloud
OwnCloud is a powerful alternative to Dropbox. However, OwnCloud has a myriad of features that can be used, over and above what Dropbox has to offer. The program needs a web server where the serve-side components have to be installed on.
Installing OwnCloud requires some technical skills and it can be a bit difficult for beginners. It can be done by either manually unpacking the entire application in a directory or setting up the installer (single .PHP file) which will pull the rest of the application’s file down from OwnCloud’s servers. One might have to take factors such as SSL certificates into consideration to ensure they have an encrypted connection.
Option 2: Filr
Filr was launched by Novell early this year. Filr’s goal (just like most of the other cloud computing providers) is to bring the functionality of Dropbox to the enterprise level, with files being hosted on premise. In a nutshell, Novell’s plan is to place more focus on secure collaboration, mobility, management and file services and endpoint application management.
Filr is deployed as three virtual machines, comprising the Novell search Index Appliance, a MySQL Database and the Novell Filr Appliance. All of the VM’s have to be deployed on VMware infrastructure; however, they can still serve up network shares and files stored on Novell Open Enterprise Server or Win Server 2003/2008 R2
Option 3: FileCloud
If you are looking for a self-hosted private alternative for Dropbox that offers features similar to Dropbox but completely resides behind your corporate firewall, please try FileCloud. Just like OwnCloud, FileCloud (www.filecloud.com) is a powerful alternative to Dropbox that has additional features meant to optimize it for the enterprise.
Installing filecloud is simple; there is an installer for Win 7 and windows server 2003, 2008 and 2012. It can also be easily deployed on Virtual Machines such as VMware and VirtualBox. There are install packages (.rpm and .deb) for Ubuntu Linux, Fedora, and RedHat. FileCloud's sync solution is one of the advanced sync solution in the industry. In addition to core product, FileCloud offers solid mobile apps and extensions such as FileCloud drive which make the solution complete and powerful.
One of the key differentiating features of FileCloud is its Mobile device management capabilities that offer admins real-time visibility into all mobile devices connected to FileCloud. Admins can view data access activity and send push notifications to device owners. Using the FileCloud MDM dashboard, admins can also remotely wipe or block mobile devices to prevent unauthorized access to FileCloud if a device is lost or stolen.
Below is an image comparing the features offered by the three options.
There are several Dropbox like alternatives for the enterprise. Simply pick a solution that has all the features you need and host your own private cloud.