Three questions MSPs need to ask about file sharing platforms

Posted by Achmad Chadran on Apr 14, 2015 8:30:00 AM

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Business-grade file sharing platforms isn’t just about data security. Yes, that is a critical consideration, but a file-sharing solution needs to serve a variety of business needs to be both effective and successful. That’s why it’s important for managed service providers to look more broadly at these platforms’ architectures, capabilities, and features when evaluating business-grade file-sharing platforms.

Here are three questions to ask as an IT service provider when evaluating a file-sharing platform to suit your clients.

1. Does it integrate with leading enterprise platforms?

For successful adoption, all business software needs to integrate with the platforms that companies already rely on. Business-grade file sharing is no different. Your clients need their file-sharing solution to work in all their OS environments, both computer and mobile. And don’t forget about the need to support cloud platforms. Google Docs, OneDrive, and Office 365 are now an established part of the IT landscape for SMBs.

Obviously, if your business uses an RMM or PSA to scale operations, it makes sense to look for file-sharing that integrates with these, as well.

2. Will it provide a seamless user experience?

Some integrations improve the user experience. Think of Active Directory, for example, which your clients can use to simplify policy-based permissions and access. An even more advanced approach is to map cloud-based shared folders as local drives, using the WebDAV protocol, or more robust utilities like NetDrive or WebDrive.

It’s also good to look for collaboration tools built into the file-sharing platforms. These include multi-user editing and commenting capabilities, for example. Compatibility with Microsoft Office applications—Word, Excel, and PowerPoint—is a frequent must-have item.

3. Can I centralize administration?

Of course, you’ve already considered this, and, of course, centralized administration tends to be table-stakes for business-grade file-sharing. As an MSP, though, you’ll need to find platforms that allow you to fine-tune access by setting restrictions, revising policies, and even locking access after projects end or users are terminated. Your ability to make changes on the fly can be vital for adjusting to changes in your clients’ organizations and your own.

A fundamentally different user experience

Given these requirements, business-grade file sharing needs to offer a fundamentally different user experience from that of consumer-grade offerings.

From a process standpoint, business-grade means an end to dragging and dropping files into shared folders. This is a waste of technology. It’s often more effective to create a folder on a file server and then configure it for sharing. This relieves workers of the burden of having to set permissions file by file. It also puts security in administrators’ hands, letting workers simply collaborate.

Solution providers play an active role

Clearly, business-grade file-sharing has more moving parts than consumer platforms. It’s only logical, then, that solution providers need to play an active role in the file-sharing process, from start to finish, including:

  • Clearly articulating the broad value proposition of business-grade file-sharing to your clients
  • Developing a solution based on your clients’ unique needs
  • Implementing, integrating, testing, and conducting orientation and training to help clients get the most of the solution as well as to ensure ROI
  • Finally, conducting regular check-ins to make sure everything works correctly and to scope out new work items or user licenses

Like cloud-enabled backup and recovery, business-grade file-sharing benefits from the additional layers of service that MSPs like yours can provide more effectively than most vendors. And like with backup, clients often are unaware of all the thinking and planning required to ensure the solution’s success. That’s why you need to educate your clients about the high business value and the increased sophistication of business-grade file-sharing platforms early in the conversation.  

 

Topics: Professional Services

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