As part of our jobs at TechTarget, Brian and I travel around the country talking about the consumerization of IT. One of the subjects that’s always likely to bring up confusion is mobile file syncing and the cloud.
In the show, we like to mention that mobile file syncing is an easy win when it comes to dealing with consumerization and enabling mobile productivity. Why? With any mobile device, your users can already access email and web apps and such. But if users want to access files on a network drive or SharePoint or anything like that, then they’re out of luck, since there’s no way to do that automatically from iOS or Android.
What do users do? In a familiar story, it’s hello Dropbox! Or Box, or Google drive, or any one of the dozens (if not hundreds) of consumer cloud file syncing services. And then all that enterprise data ends up in the cloud, with who knows what level of security.
Of course for a while now there have been many products intended to be “Dropbox for the Enterprise,” providing mobile file syncing, except with all manner of security controls. Many of these have options like password policies, remote wipe, higher levels of encryption, and sharing controls.
By providing users with mobile access to enterprise files, you can enable a lot of mobile productivity. And the best part is that you can do this even if you haven’t figured out what you’re going to do about mobile device management or mobile app management or any mobilizing any other particular application
At this point, often someone will object, saying, “Enterprise mobile file syncing sounds fine, but we don’t want to move our files to the cloud.” It’s understandable why somebody might think this, because some of the most prominent mobile file syncing products like Dropbox do utilize cloud storage.
But this objection to cloud storage is completely fine, because many of these enterprise-oriented products can connect mobile devices to existing on-premises file servers and SharePoint, and even do desktop syncing.
So the reality is that mobile file syncing and cloud file storage are completely independent variables. Your decision to enable mobile file syncing has nothing to do with your decision to move storage to the cloud. (There are certainly many vendors that will be vigorously nodding their heads in agreement.)
In our live events, we like to show this simple Venn diagram:
There are some other cool things going on in this space, too. As we’ve covered in the past, more and more file sync products are starting to come with built-in document editing capabilities. This is useful because now users don’t have to shuffle documents back and forth to other apps to get their work done—everything can stay protected in the corporate app, regardless of whether any other enterprise mobility management tools are involved.