OneDrive and SharePoint network file sharing an excellent solution for remote work challenges.
Most organizations that have already invested in the Microsoft suite and Office 365 have tools available to them, right now, to meet the challenges of helping employees effectively work from home.
These tools are OneDrive and SharePoint, which are cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) technologies. Microsoft designed these tools for employees to securely share documents from wherever they are and from virtually any device. It provides most plans with 1TB of cloud-enabled user storage, and most of these tools don’t require a VPN to use.
So, what does that mean for you? Both of these tools:
Create a Stronger Performance
OneDrive and SharePoint can deliver a much better performance than old, network-drive-based VPN systems. In a network file share environment, you may have to use a VPN to access your files. Across this network segment, you’re likely to experience slow, or even failed, downloads and uploads of your files. I recently had such an experience with one of my client’s PowerPoint files — a 10MB, graphics-rich presentation. It took over two minutes just to download, and each save-routine took a minute or two.
Reduce Corrupted Files
Tools like OneDrive and SharePoint also help with potential data loss — especially when it comes to corrupted files. Files can get corrupted during check-in and check-out routines. That’s because VPN is built on the network file-sharing system that has dominated corporate America for years. Network file shares lock files at the file level. Across the VPN, those locks can (and often do) create corruption. Remember Access in 2001?
Before we talk more about the solution, let’s take a quick look at how we got here.
The Evolution of Network File Sharing
Most of us remember our first days on the job. Someone from IT met with us and said, “Your department files are on the N: drive, HR materials are on the Z: drive, but if you want to keep something private, use the C: drive.” Thus, we entered the segmented, walled-off world of network drives.
It worked — sort of — but it didn’t keep pace with how we actually work. We travel, we work from home, we need to review Excel files in line at the grocery. In many companies, I could access some, but not all, of my information. Even as cloud came down to earth and became more mainstream, options to save, share and collaborate on content were simply too expensive.
Frustrated, but clever, employees found cloud-based workarounds like Box, DropBox and even Google (GSuite). But, these “shadow IT” solutions often connected to individuals rather than the corporate entity. In addition to licensing costs, ownership problems and scaling challenges, these fixes also lacked loss- and threat-prevention controls. The result? Significant risk of data leakage, data theft and compliance risk.
Fortunately, we had a “eureka” moment in cloud solutions. For the first time, the cloud matured to predictably and reliably enable tools like OneDrive and SharePoint. These tools are not only secure and cost-effective but also even capable of helping reduce cost.
Please keep an open mind when I mention SharePoint. You may be thinking, “SharePoint? Isn’t that the old intranet and content management tool?” Yes, but though SharePoint started in the network-drive era and was initially the go-to for content management via intranets, Microsoft invested significantly in adapting it for both the cloud and document storage.
Making the Move to OneDrive and SharePoint
Think of OneDrive as a modern file-sharing system that sits on top of SharePoint. SharePoint allows for files stored in OneDrive on employees’ computers and other devices to look exactly like the file structure they typically use, but it stores files in the cloud. This method means changes save in real-time, and users can always access current files from anywhere.
More importantly, users can apply security to individual users or groups of users. So instead of “department files are on the N: drive and HR materials are on the Z: drive,” OneDrive secures files in separate folders in the cloud.
The biggest challenge now is moving files into the cloud that are not there already. It takes time, and manual moves are tedious and error-prone. Plus, your IT department is likely busy with other tasks, including supporting the exact VPN solution you all want to escape.
The Good News
ShareGate allows you to migrate unlimited data to all versions of SharePoint, and then reorganize and restructure your new SharePoint content. Out-of-the-box and custom reports then allow you to monitor and secure your environment, while other ShareGate tools help with governance and cost control. And, you can migrate to SharePoint quicker than you’d think—in less than five days in most cases.
With the right tools, your employees can transform the way they work—and even enjoy the journey toward the workplace of tomorrow, today.