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It’s 2:00 am. Do you know where your files are?

By Doug Cahill | Mar 6, 2013

Companies have long since had a need to share files. FTP is, after all, over 40 years old and SMTP email was implemented as an extension of FTP in the early 80’s. As email became widely adopted it became the first option to send files and, when necessary, IT sets up an FTP server to transfer the larger files. Put, Get, ls –l, and all that command line stuff. The consumerization of IT has resulted in the proliferation of unmanaged, non-IT issued devices used to access and share corporate digital assets. We are all now 3+ device owning, information hungry, data consumers and sharers. And cloud storage redux (Dropbox et al. is arguably cloud storage 2.0 with companies such Storage Networks having pioneered the first phase in the 90’s) is making it amazingly easy to share files to/from these devices –often, too easy, in fact.

The other significant trend affecting file sharing is the incessant creation of massive amounts of unstructured data. We’re mobile, we’re creating tons of data and we want access to it at all times from anywhere. But not all of this data is created equal; some files are simply more important than others. And not only is it the sheer quantity of files that is growing but the size of the files themselves. We can all remember MBs being a unit of measurement considered large. Some of us may even harken back to talking about KBs. But now GB files are fairly common – think heavy-weight digital assets such as video files, seismic data sets, DNA sequencing, and other forms of “big data” which when aggregated often total in the PBs! With video now widely used for marketing teams in all industries, every company is a Media company. It’s no wonder IT vendors are highly focused on not only Big Data analytics, but BIG files, something here in New England we can’t help but to refer to as “wicked big dater.”

Arguably the heavier (i.e. larger) the asset, the more valuable it is to a company, a form of intellectual property. It is here we need to consider the implications of the advent of the “Dropbox Syndrome”, which, with respect to the risk of digital asset loss, may soon reach epidemic levels. Absent a corporate IT issued file sharing solution that is easy-to-use and does not require IT parental micro-management a la an FTP server, the consumerization of IT culture of today is such that end-users will, and are, using their own built-for-the-consumer file sharing account to move around corporate digital assets. IT has no control over these cloud-based storage services, never mind any visibility into the who, what, where, and when of the movement of the digital assets. It’s 2:00 am; do you know where your assets are?

As IT use cases expand and mature, multiple solutions are often brought to bare. When it comes to file sharing, different classes of digital assets require purpose-built solutions. Sharing and synching MP3s and pictures to/from devices and between friends and family requires ease of use, cloud storage, and synchronization. Dropbox has not only created this market but has done something few companies in any market ever achieve – brand an entire product category a la Kleenex, Xerox, etc. But heavy assets require a different set of capabilities, extreme file sharing functions, of which absolute must-haves include not only that easy to use, cloud-delivered interface for the end-user, but an enterprise-ready platform comprised of managed acceleration to handle GBs that aggregate to PBs, serious security, storage independence for the option of keeping certain digital assets on private infrastructure, and repudiation tracking for full visibility. It’s 2:00 am and with extreme file sharing, yes, you will know not only where your assets are, but have been and with who. Now how do I get that for teenagers?

Doug Cahill, VP Business Development