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Buying and managing online file collaboration tools

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The impact of consumerization

ESG has observed a significant shift in the acceptance of alternative endpoint devices by corporate IT staffs. What are the forces compelling these changes? End-user demand is a huge driver. With the continued mass-market adoption of sophisticated devices like smartphones and tablets in the consumer space, it simply follows that users would push to utilize those devices for both personal and work purposes.

This isn’t bad news for IT. Ultimately, consumerization can be a “win-win”—corporate IT staffs pass on some of the cost of device acquisition and service plans while maintaining control over their organization’s information, and employees have the freedom to use the device(s) of their own choosing. However, there are critical issues that IT managers must consider, such as providing app and workspace deployment options that enable IT to manage and maintain user identity, device independence, security and predictable productivity. In addition, there are the cost and other considerations associated with new vendor and telecom contracts to provide 24/7 support to mobile endpoint devices.

Getting in front of the wave

Corporate IT departments can get out in front of this wave by endorsing a single offering that best balances collaboration and file sharing needs with their security and control requirements. With a smart and educated investment, companies stand to satisfy their users while enjoying improved

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security and control over company information, better administrative capabilities and, ultimately, peace of mind.

Pricing and offerings in the market vary widely based on the amount of storage, number of users, levels of support and availability of data on mobile devices. But users need to be careful; it can be difficult to do an apples-to-apples pricing comparison because some products charge per seat, others have capacity limits or charge by capacity, and still others have custom quote pricing for business users. This is, indeed, a nascent market and offerings will likely continue to evolve as vendors evaluate pricing models and make land grabs with attractive pricing options designed to lure users.

IT departments should pay particular attention to scalability (licensing structures and how easy it is to add users) and service– level agreements (uptime guarantees). In addition, those making the shift from traditional data storage vendors to the online space should be warned: They’re probably used to a certain level of support and while some vendors offer “premium” or “dedicated” support options, others only offer FAQs and online help. Vendors like Box, Syncplicity and YouSendIt stand out in this area as they provide dedicated account managers for enterprise accounts.

This was first published in March 2012

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