The pandemic fundamentally shifted the way many organizations operate, with 55% of global businesses now offering some capacity for remote or hybrid work. Of those employees who work remotely or in a hybrid model, 50% access work data on personal devices such as laptops and smartphones.
With this increase in remote work and digital access, the need for off-premises file sharing (the process of sharing files between multiple users) continues to grow.
Since cloud file sharing works through a cloud computing system rather than an on-premise software solution, the need for cloud storage systems also continues to grow. Gartner predicts that by 2024, the enterprise cloud storage sector will grow by nearly 15%. This is a steep difference from the 5% increase the sector experienced in 2020.
As more businesses turn away from on-premises servers and toward file sharing and cloud storage solutions, they are experiencing some challenges. These difficulties range from a lack of resources when managing cloud spending to governance for these systems.
Cybersecurity also becomes a growing concern. Employees often access their file storage systems via unsecured networks such as public Wi-Fi, putting businesses at increased cybersecurity risks, including data theft, ransomware, and viruses.
This article highlights how cloud storage is used by enterprises, plus the pros and cons of cloud file sharing and storage for businesses.
How enterprises use cloud file sharing and storage
Examples of ways enterprises use cloud file sharing and cloud storage include the following:
Data storage. Cloud storage systems store data and allow multiple (authorized) users access to this data.
Data backup. Even organizations with on-premises servers can utilize the cloud as a data backup solution. This ensures data is safe in another location, should the on-premises solution experience data loss via events such as a server crash, a cyberattack, or a natural disaster.
File archiving. Rather than replacing a file with an updated version (which is what happens when you press “Save” on most systems such as Microsoft Word), file archiving saves all versions of a file. Preserving each version enables you to easily access all versions of a file throughout its history.
Open file backup. Power outages, computer crashes, cyberattacks, even natural disasters—the unexpected can always happen, and these events can lead to data loss if documents are not automatically saved. Open file backup ensures even documents you have open and are working on are saved as you go.
Device syncing. The number of devices used by workers is increasing. Workers used an average of three devices in 2019 and will use an average of four by 2024. Device syncing ensures data from all devices is stored in a central location. This eliminates the possibility of multiple files of the same document being worked on at once.
File security. Most cloud systems encrypt files during both transfer (such as when being sent over email) and during storage. In general, cloud storage companies employ 256-bit AES encryption, which uses a 256 bit key to encrypt and decrypt data (and is therefore virtually resistant to brute force attacks).
Cloud hosting. Enterprises may opt for cloud storage solutions that come with hosting features and messaging systems. A popular example is Microsoft, which offers the email service Microsoft Outlook and the messaging service Microsoft Teams.
Industry-specific regulatory compliance for cloud storage
Many industries must meet regulatory requirements with respect to the storage of personal data.
Consider the following regulations regarding data storage:
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Any company that deals with cardholder data must abide by the PCI DSS. These requirements include policies such as encrypting the transmissions of cardholder data, strictly managing access controls, and implementing strong password policies.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) as well as Electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI). All healthcare-related entities (including third parties such as insurance agencies) must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations regarding the protection of Electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI). Organizations are required to protect against real and anticipated threats to accessing personally identifying information.
The System and Organization Controls (SOC). Companies in the finance industry must abide by the System and Organization Controls (SOC). SOC serves as the guidelines for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and details compliance requirements regarding the outsourcing of data storage.
The Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS). All industries should follow the encryption requirements set forth by the FIPS, which is the security standard for transmitting sensitive information. It provides military-grade encryption.
Companies are FIPS compliant only when they adhere to defined data security and computer systems and encryption and decryption. Organizations may receive FIPS validation after undergoing a rigorous evaluation process.
The pros and cons of cloud file sharing and storage
As with any system, there are pros and cons to cloud file sharing and storage. Consider the following advantages and disadvantages of these systems before deciding if they are right for your organization.
Disaster recovery. Floods, fires, and other natural disasters can damage or permanently destroy computers and backup storage systems such as hard drives. This loss can be detrimental for businesses. One study found that 50% of companies that lost data due to a natural disaster immediately filed for bankruptcy. Keeping your enterprise’s data on a cloud system avoids data loss due to such events.
Increased accessibility. Employees working off-premises may still require the same level of access to files, folders, and communication-sharing systems that they had access to in-office. With remote access, both remote workers and in-office employees who are on-the-go can complete tasks and collaborate with others.
Data control. When multiple workers are working on the same digital file, it’s easy for mistakes to happen. With cloud-hosted systems, files are all stored in one location, and data is automatically synced between all devices. This ensures everyone uses the most up-to-date version of files.
Data recovery. Hard drive crashes or system failures are responsible for 67% of all data loss. With cloud storage systems, data is never lost due to these factors.
Cost efficiency. Enterprises must purchase, implement, and maintain their equipment. This requires initial investments and expertise. Down the road, issues with your server could also lead to downtime. While cloud systems can be costly, the costs are often more manageable and more predictable.
Lack of resources and expertise. For enterprises that are new to using cloud systems, deficits abound. The top challenges for enterprises include the lack of resources to implement a system and a lack of employees with internal knowledge of how to use these systems.
Managing cloud spending. An estimated 30% of cloud spending is wasted when, for example, organizations purchase storage they do not need or fail to make use of all features they’ve paid for.
Additionally, 56% of organizations report a lack of knowledge regarding the cost implications of software licenses. For these reasons, more than 80% of enterprises state managing cloud expenditures as the biggest challenge.
Security concerns. Cloud storage systems may come with security features such as two-factor authentication or secure passwords. While these help safeguard your data, no system is immune to human error: 74% of organizations have been breached after employees broke security rules.
Internet dependency. Cloud-based systems require an internet connection for access. Should your employees have internet connectivity issues or be in an area where internet access is down, you could end up with lost productivity.
Protect your enterprise’s cloud information with WinZip Enterprise
To protect your enterprise’s data, consider using a solution like WinZipⓇ Enterprise.
WinZip Enterprise syncs with many enterprise-grade cloud file sharing and storage systems—including Google Cloud, Office 365 Business, and SharePoint—to ensure your data is locked under a secure layer of protection.
WinZip Enterprise uses AES encryption, which is an encryption algorithm used by entities such as banks, financial institutions, insurance companies, healthcare companies, and government agencies. WinZip Enterprise’s AES encryption uses a 128, 192, or 256-bit key to encrypt and decrypt data.
WinZip Enterprise is also compliant with the military-grade encryption set forth by the FIPS.
WinZip Enterprise includes WinZip Secure Backup, which is an automated endpoint data backup to ensure your files are protected. It includes features such as deduplication (to avoid duplicate documentation) and file compression (to make the most of data storage).