Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) Consulting
Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) (also called Cloud content management (CCM)) is the ability to deliver computing resources as a service and these resources are made available over the Internet. A basic and well known example is Dropbox , in which Dropbox owns all of the resources needed to store and deliver files for a user and the user does not own any software or hardware and either pays a fee or receives the service for free. Cloud computing encompasses all types of applications from simple online data storage to running highly specialized cloud content management systems and applications.
In this page, we will be exploring a more narrow view of cloud computing and focus on those systems, technologies, and vendors that provide document management applications and services for public agencies, private companies, and individual users - this may be called Cloud Content Management (CCM), Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS), Cloud Information Management (CIM), Cloud File Sharing, Cloud ECM, and other names that have yet to emerge. In addition, we will explain the different technologies and whether you should consider moving to the cloud or not. Technologies include everything from simple document storage in the cloud (Amazon.com offers 5 gigabytes of free storage) to complex cloud document management and collaboration applications like Microsoft Office365 (Office 365 provides Office products, document storage, SharePoint, and a website for approximately $10 per month per user), Google Apps, Box.com, Dropbox, Alfresco, SpringCM, and Huddle.
We currently list and track over 30 companies that have some type of cloud collaboration capability - ranging from simple file storage and file sharing to fully featured ECM systems. Many of these companies have collaboration capabilities such as security at the folder and document level, simple workflow, desktop syncing, previews of files, and other features that enable true collaboration. Other companies may include project workareas with simple project management software, virtual whiteboards for team, and other project/team oriented features.
EFSS systems have many benefits that can be quickly realized:
1. Lower initial and startup costs
2. No yearly "major version upgrade" costs (SP 2003 2007 2010 2013 how much did that cost?)
3. Low barrier to entry, high and quick return possible
4. Measured service, pay as you go
5. Quality of service (SLA) reliable and available
6. Highly scalable resources are available when needed
7. Rapid elasticity resources are consumed on-demand
8. Outsourced IT for system management
9. Vendor provided maintenance
10. Device independent (PC, Apple, Tablet, Smartphone)
EFSS systems have substantial risks, depending on you business model:
1. Security (physical and data)
2. Requires fast Internet connection
3. Rapidly changing vendor community and feature sets
4. No customization to meet your "unique requirements"
5. Compliance may be challenging for regulated industries
6. No CIM "standards" however all basic Internet standards apply
7. Customization (it is a configurable application, not customizable
8. Company can easily lose control of information without governance
9. Lack of (for most) records management (unless you use a hybrid, for example Box + Documentum)
10. Inability to manage legal/audit/business holds on any scale
11. Could lead to Silos of Information (separation of information into unique inaccessible areas)
Depending on your point of view, a primary risk is that many EFSS companies are still private venture capitalized companies and many of them are still not profitable. With a crowded field among the EFSS players and the "Big Guns" (see below) becoming more aggressive in product development and pricing, there is bound to be a shakeout in the future. The shakeout may include EFSS companies being purchased by larger companies, EFSS companies merging, and some EFSS companies going out of business.
See my article on Choosing a Document Management System
See my Presentation on Why ECM Systems Fail
The current top EFSS companies (cloud only) are:
There are subtle and not so subtle differences between these companies that may affect your decision to purchase one over the other. WatchDox and Huddle, for example have more security around their documents than Box or Dropbox, but the added complexity of this security may be "too much" for the average user to use.
The above five companies are only the tip of the iceberg in the EFSS marketing area. One of the current trends is for the major established ECM vendors (Big Guns) to build/create a "cloud" collaboration application or to collaborate with one of the existing cloud collaboration companies. OpenText has created Tempo, Documentum has Syncplicity, and IBM has IBM Docs (IBM Connections).
If you have questions about cloud content management technologies or would like to contribute information, please call or email us. I am also available to do a cloud strategy session at your company or event.
Download my 2 page introduction to Cloud Computing
Download my 10 page introduction to Introduction to Cloud Information Management
See the new AIIM Toolkit on Cloud Content Management - http://bit.ly/Sen5e5 Check it out!
View my presentation about collaboration in the cloud - Cloud Content Management
Check our Consulting Services section for how we can help you with a strategy for cloud content management.
A good starting point for your research is the NIST publication on cloud computing:
Below is a diagram of what is already happening - companies are going with all cloud applications and have little or no IT presence on-premise and no server room except for the Internet cable and the WiFi router. Workers in this company can log in from any device that is Internet capable and be able to remotely work from anywhere. This also allows companies to be "virtual" companies and not have a central headquarters - employees may have home offices and/or work/travel where the engagement exists. Today, an airport may be your next office - and for many of us, that is already true.
See a place for your company? Let me know.
Independent | Unbiased | Objective
Document Imaging | Electronic Document Management | Records Management | SharePoint
PRA is not affiliated with any vendors, is not a reseller of any products, and provides objective document management consulting services.