Why does ShareFile make O365 so much better?

At a basic level, ShareFile and Office 365 have some overlapping capabilities.  If you don’t look beneath the high level specifications of O365, an IT or procurement manager might conclude that “We have all these features with Office 365, therefore ShareFile is overkill”.  With this article, we’re trying to neatly spell out why ShareFile greatly enhances O365 based on our observations in the field.

Don’t get us wrong – at Peninsula IT we are big fans of Office 365 and the functionality it provides to our customers.  These days, Office 365 always features in our Windows 10 migrations and our migrations for XenApp, XenDesktop and XenMobile.  Based on our experience in the field and our observations of customer behavior, there are a few misunderstandings when comparing what customers think Office 365 provides specifically with OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online Team Sites, with how it is actually used by staff.

Why we see our customers moving to Office 365

Based on our field experience, the most common reason companies are moving to Office 365 is email and calendaring.  Now, there are loads of other reasons and cool functionality that Microsoft provide that may be more important than email and calendaring to many companies (such as Skype for Business, start here for more info), but in the context of this article, File Sharing and Sync are not the reasons why our customers decide on Office 365.  This is why ShareFile, combined with Office365, forms the basis of our Digital Workspace Consulting offering.

File Sharing and Sync tools are not “all the same”

Gartner has been reviewing the Enterprise File Share and Sync (EFSS) market for 3 or 4 years now.  They started out with 4 or 5 evaluation criteria, and now with the most recent magic quadrant report from August 2016 there are dozens of criteria with enterprise features like Data Loss Prevention (DLP) support and Role Based Access Control (RBAC) now considered important.  This reflects the complex way that people and businesses in the real world have actually adapted to having EFSS tools at their fingertips.  OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online certainly do have some of these capabilities, but in our experience, augmenting these O365 products with ShareFile provides a really robust enterprise platform for a Digital Workspace that goes far beyond simple file share and sync, catering for real needs of employees within these customers.  The key areas we consider when assessing O365 customers EFSS needs are shown below.

1. ShareFile provides really thorough document collaboration for internal and external parties

Granular permissions can be applied when sharing files or folders to control activities such as viewing, editing and deleting shared files and folders.  ShareFile also has supporting collaboration features like co-editing of files saved in ShareFile using Office 365 tools such as Word and Excel, document feedback and approval workflows, and electronic signatures.

With O365, Microsoft freely state on their website here that you should use OneDrive for Business for storing files when:

  • You don’t plan to share them
  • You plan to share files individually and with a limited scope or lifecycle
  • You can’t identify an existing team site where your document belongs, and you don’t think the purpose of the document warrants creating a new one.

In a time where people expect their key work files from any cloud or datacentre to be at their fingertips on nearly any device, we find that ShareFile is a great option for augmenting O365 to create a genuine digital workspace that enables the sync and sharing features that OneDrive for Business cannot.

2. ShareFile gives access to files in Office 365, Azure, SharePoint, AND network shares from a single app

Our customers generally use O365, Azure and a host of other Microsoft services they have paid for.  But after deploying ShareFile as well, they can use mobile devices to access files running on existing Windows network file shares, whether on premise or in the cloud.  Native integration with SharePoint allows browsing, checking in and checking out files through a number of ShareFile clients across mobile, web and desktop, and connectors provide access to Office365 data as well.  New data repositories can be configured using ShareFile StorageZones in Azure (for example, to take advantage of a customers Azure storage entitlement with greatest benefit) or on Windows file servers within our customers existing data centres.  ShareFile provides a genuine hybrid cloud view of data for our customers.

3. Extended security capabilities

Many organisations require extended security capabilities if they are plan to meet the same kind of regulatory or internal policy requirements that were so rigorously adhered to before Cloud became a serious proposition.  As a result, we deploy ShareFile features that help with protecting customer data like Information Rights Management (IRM), DLP integration to prevent sharing of confidential files, expiration controls on links, remote wipe of device data, and full audit and tracking reports for compliance.  Like ShareFile, Office 365 now includes DLP and IRM capabilities for OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online.  Audit and link expiration are also enabled.

4.  You Want to Deliver OneDrive for Business in a Virtual Environment

Like other EFSS products such as DropBox and Google Drive, OneDrive is not supported in a virtual environment. For Peninsula IT the ShareFile Drive Mapper is a tool that lets our customers work with their ShareFile documents as if they were stored on a network drive. The ShareFile content (including OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online) appears in the Windows desktop as a drive letter, and access to files is on-demand. That is, documents are not copied to the Windows virtual desktop or app unless a user opens the file.  The is an absolutely essential feature when using EFSS in our customers virtual environments where storage is finite and customers often use single image management provisioning.  In this situation, without ShareFile, the virtual environments of our customers would be overwhelmed with storage and data transfer volumes.

 

At Peninsula IT we are trusted advisors to our customers – we are a services company and we don’t sell software that companies don’t need.  From our field experience, we recommend that our customers combine Office365 with Citrix ShareFile.  With this article we have tried to outline why.  If you would like to speak with one of our field consultants for more information on our Digital Workspace consulting, fill out the form below and we will be in touch.

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