Mobility and BYOD are hot topics of conversation. Everyone is bringing their smartphones and tablets into work, and looking for ways to access their work files. You are told cloud storage is the answer, and just about every other cloud service out there offers the same promise: mobile access, file syncing and sharing. But look below the surface and differences start to emerge. Think about what happens to the data you are trying to sync files and share them. Consider the tradeoffs you are forced to make regarding your identity, data protection, deployment, and more. The differences quickly become stark.

Here are seven things to consider when looking for a mobile productivity solution:

Native vs. Add-on

To gain user adoption and utilization, the solution must be simple and intuitive. What will your users need to do for them to get their files? To date, there have been many web portal solutions, such as Sharepoint. But these solutions have created little more than new silos of corporate information.

Why is that? Just think about all the steps required to access one file in those systems. You have to be online, login to a different system, browse in a different context, download the file, find it again, open it, and repeat. Do you think this interrupts a person’s regular workflow? Does it require a user to switch context from what they are doing on their computer into opening another widget or logging into another portal?

Laws of network physics

Networks are costly. With most vendors, you are paying for bandwidth every single time a file is uploaded, plus every single time a file is retrieved. Your WAN link is going to have to get that much bigger and we all know that’s a static cost every month. You pay for the cost of the data traveling out to the public cloud storage and then back again when another user who sits in the same office tries to download the same file.

No matter how “fast” a service claims to be, they cannot defy the laws of physics when your file takes a round trip to travel across the country to another remote data center and back. 

What if you can leverage your own storage that is already available in your local network? That way all your users working in the office most of the time can actually enjoy much faster access, as much as ten times faster, since they are already local to the storage. Think about the time and money you can save without latency issues and bandwidth cost.

Identity ownership

How does the solution authenticate your users? Do they require you to copy your credentials into a 3rd party service? Or does it create an entirely new set of user credentials? In both of these cases you lose control over user’s access rights. How can you proactively manage employees who leave the company from gaining access with their credentials? How can you enable or disable users at scale?

Managing a ton of users

You have dozens, hundreds or even tens of thousands of users. How can you deploy, scale and manage all your users on this new cloud solution?

How can users sign up for the service? Most consumer services provide individual email invitations – but that will not be sufficient for a corporate rollout. How can you easily provision users? And even after deployment, how can you support and manage all the users? Does the service provide an easy way to support your existing user groups and defined permissions?

Data control at edge

Many vendors use a “copy everywhere” architecture – meaning copies of data are created in their clouds, as well as at every device that each user has (think every time a file is downloaded to a user’s laptop, desktop, smartphone, and tablet). Once a copy is created, you no longer have control over that local copy. Mobile Device Management (MDM) or additional device encryption isn’t the answer either. They are clunky to implement, interrupt a user’s natural workflow and add cost to your solution.

Wouldn’t it be easier if the solution encrypts and protects data throughout its lifecycle no matter where the file is? With local encryption enabled, the right solution can seamlessly protect all your files even at end point devices without requiring a user to change their behavior.

Data sovereignty

Does the solution know or notify you on where your data is stored? Can you control where your data is hosted and served from? This is a concern for a lot of different national laws around data privacy (i.e. there are currently 27 different national data privacy laws wthin the EU). They often impose a strict data breach notification and require a company’s data to reside within the country. If you (or your customers) are in one of those countries where data sovereignty is a concern, then solutions like Box or Egnyte will not be acceptable as they will require you to upload and copy all your data elsewhere.

Cloud-speed IT

We already know that traditional enterprise software sucks. But it doesn’t have to anymore. Not in the Cloud era. Adopting new cloud software for your company should be much, much easier. Cloud apps can be deployed much faster than traditional software.

On top of that, don’t worry about scheduling and managing patches and updates, as that is the benefit of doing it cloud style – it’ll be automatic and taken care of with minimal overhead. For example, here at Oxygen we push out new releases on a bi-weekly basis with bug fixes, performance improvements, and new features for users and IT. As each release becomes available, users can automatically update their clients to the latest without contacting IT.

Embracing cloud storage and mobile collaboration doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice performance, flexibility, security and control. Ask questions. You may be surprised to find that you can have it all.