In an earlier post on this topic, I mentioned that for Cloud File-Sharing (CFS) Platforms to become a part of the enterprise layer -- as opposed to just serving as stand-alone tools like most of them do now -- they would need to improve in a number of areas. One of the key areas where almost all the tools need improvement is in the area of reporting and compliance.
As an administrator, you need the ability to monitor different quotas: storage, bandwidth, and users. You should also be able to monitor workspaces, files, folders, sharing, and so forth. All of the major CFS platforms provide some sort of reporting; however, this is not an area of strength. In most cases, you are limited to a few canned reports. You also can't usually drill down or create custom reports. The alternative is usually integrating with an external reporting software.
Along with reporting, there are a host of national and international regulations for security and compliance to evaluate carefully. Compliance with regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) can place a significant demand on security reporting and confidentiality. Most vendors will claim that they comply with these regulations as well as others. However, you need to be skeptical about those claims. For example, ask vendors if they are prepared to sign what is known as a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) in the context of HIPAA.
The fact is, these vendors provide a technical infrastructure and security controls that can help you to be compliant, this won’t automatically make you compliant. If compliance with different regulations is an important requirement, this is one area where you should spend a lot of your evaluation bandwidth.
Finally, a closely related consideration is that of retention & disposition management. Retention and disposition management continues to be a weakness for most cloud vendors. Enterprise-tier suppliers universally fail to provide even the most basic record management functions.
Now you could of course argue why these features are required in these relatively simpler file-sharing tools when you already have more sophisticated ECM or DM type tools. And you would probably be right if you were using these tools in a stand-alone more for simple scenarios. However, when you start talking of using these tools as a part of your enterprise layer, things start becoming complex...
We cover this and other areas in which these tools need to improve in our Cloud File Sharing and Collaboration evaluation report. The next version of this report will include updates to existing vendors as well as some new vendors. If you have experience with any of these tools covered in our report, I'd love to hear from you.