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Why IT Should Reject the Strong-Arm Tactics of Consumer File Sharing Apps


File sharing has become essential in enterprises, and consumer sharing tools are seeing increased use as a result. It’s no surprise, then, that these apps have begun to offer enterprise subscription models. On the surface, those subscriptions may seem like a good choice.

After all, isn’t it better to stick with the tools your employees are already using?

Not necessarily. While consumer apps do offer a few features geared towards the enterprise, in key areas they fall short as true Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing (EFSS) tools when compared against an option like BlackBerry Workspaces, formerly known as WatchDox.

There are a few reasons for this, which I’ll go over in detail below.

Only One Choice for Deployment

As a general rule, consumer file sharing utilities are cloud-only. On-premises deployment is not an option. For many reasons, including cost, risk and loss of control, many enterprises are not comfortable with a solution that requires a wholesale migration or replication of enterprise files and data to a cloud-based repository.

BlackBerry Workspaces, in contrast, offers several options for deployment:

  • Cloud: For customers that prefer a quickly deployed, managed offering. Our cloud deployment is well-suited to small and midsized businesses, especially those without their own backend repositories. Our cloud offering is also highly scalable, and many large customers trust us to manage tens of thousands of users.
  • On-premises: For organizations that prefer to deploy BlackBerry Workspaces into their own environment. Businesses may opt for on-prem if they can achieve economies of scale or in order to ensure regulatory compliance.
  • Hybrid: For businesses that want complete flexibility. Our hybrid deployment option allows clients to extend existing repositories while still taking advantage of the BlackBerry Workspaces Cloud – for example, by deploying BlackBerry Workspaces in the cloud and pointing it at a backend repository.

mobile-collaborationNo Unification

Another weakness inherent in consumer sharing platforms is that they’re rarely designed with extensibility in mind. Integration with existing repositories often requires a complex implementation, with multiple control panels. BlackBerry Workspaces, on the other hand, operates on a concept known as Protect-in-Place.

Available through BlackBerry Workspaces Enterprise Tier, BlackBerry Workspaces’ Connectors allow it to manage and protect existing file repositories. You’re able to securely extend enterprise files to wherever they need to be, simplifying and unifying the user experience into a single app. More importantly, you’re able to view and manage every single file and repository through a single, consolidated interface – a concept we refer to as a “single pane of glass” view.

Strong-Arm Tactics

The big enterprise pitch with consumer file sharing tools isn’t that they’re powerful, secure or easy to use. It’s that everybody’s already using them. They can look at your logs, for example, and tell you that their tool has 30% penetration within your business, so they say it’s in your best interest to sign up for a subscription.

This is a strong-arm tactic. They’re saying “don’t you think you should put some controls on that? People are breaking your security policies, and there’s nothing you can do about it. But if you sign up for our service, we’ll help you protect your documents.”

Is that really the sort of relationship you want to have with a vendor?

BlackBerry Workspaces doesn’t force anything on our clients. We understand that most enterprises have to manage complex, sprawling networks, with multiple applications and utilities. Rather than bullying decision-makers into an agreement, we treat our clients as partners.

The Core EFSS Requirement: Security

Consumer-based EFSS services are already telling potential customers that they are making them less secure. Unlike consumer apps, BlackBerry Workspaces was built from the ground up to meet the needs of the enterprise.

track-mobile2Consumer services have proven that security is not a core strength – they’re more often considered a risk than an asset. And there are multiple examples that drive this point home. There’s the privacy hole discovered by security firm Intralinks in many consumer file sharing platforms, or the fact that said vulnerability has remained unpatched for years. There’s the fact that many consumer platforms were made vulnerable by the infamous Heartbleed bug, or the multiple security flaws recently patched out of one sharing app.

When discussing the risk of deploying file sharing, it’s examples like these that come to mind – and we understand that. We know that document security is your number one concern, which is why it’s at the heart of BlackBerry Workspaces. Our EFSS platform has been recognized as a leader in multiple analyst reports, including Gartner’s EFSS Magic Quadrant, Gartner’s EFSS Critical Capabilities and Forrester’s EFSS Wave.

The reason for all this recognition is tied to BlackBerry Workspaces’ unique file-centric digital rights management technology. No other EFSS platform on the market allows you so much control over how files are accessed, edited and shared. And no other platform lets you dictate exactly how your files are used, even if they aren’t within your security perimeter.

There are many excellent consumer file-sharing tools on the market. But they aren’t like BlackBerry Workspaces – they’re not EFSS solutions, and they lack most of BlackBerry Workspaces’ out-of-box functionality. When you’re looking to enable secure collaboration within your business, it will pay to remember that (and it might cost you to forget).

Interested in seeing how you might use BlackBerry Workspaces to enhance your own business operations? Check out our latest release blog, visit the official BlackBerry Workspaces page or view our BlackBerry Workspaces Email Protector page.

About Dan Auker