Enterprise file shares need a face lift.
I don’t think there is anything surprising or controversial about that statement. After all, AvePoint sponsored a series of presentations in North America earlier this year called, quite accurately, “The death of the file share … as you know it.”
If you’re utilizing enterprise file shares today in addition to your Microsoft SharePoint deployment, your users can probably be categorized into a few general personas:
· Reluctant adopters – Although you’ve given users a SharePoint site, old habits die hard. SharePoint means new things: metadata management, workflows, and a new portal for uploads – just to name a few. This can seem like more work than your users are used to – from simple drag-and-drop to categorization! Forcing users into a new information architecture, and ultimately new interface, can require more work than you might expect.
· Impossible-to-adopt-ers – While SharePoint sounds great, there are some hard limitations that may make your users reluctant to switch. For instance, most development and support organizations will find that code, either in binary or executable (.exe) form, will be either blocked outright by SharePoint or difficult to load in native format. Begin to add AutoCAD drawings, video, and media projects, TIFFs and legacy archives, and you might find yourself beyond SharePoint’s storage and supported boundaries in a hurry.
· Legacy applications – Yes, applications are users too! You might find yourself in this category if you’ve ever spoken about migration and heard, “But all of our links will be broken!” It’s not just the links from one legacy document to another, but sometimes entire systems (even mainframes) are still exporting content to file shares. One of our customers from the oil and gas industry still depends on a file share as a repository for actively saving and updating pipeline pressure information. A customer from the advertising industry uses a wiki-based application for external client feedback which constantly saves and pulls content from a file share. Yet another customer from the manufacturing industry stored nearly 100,000,000 (yes, one hundred million) documents on a file share, managed by Sybase for distribution and tagging.
In all of these cases, in spite of having the enterprise power of SharePoint up and running, you’re still paying to keep file shares properly maintained. The data is still stored – part of disaster recovery and high availability strategies, and potentially even still required for legal processes – regardless of whether it is being used, owned, or accessed frequently.
Why do we recommend consolidation of file shares with SharePoint? Several key ways to enhance your file shares to add more value to your organization include:
· Accessibility: This could be the availability of the content throughout the organization, the publication of content over HTTP (opening up to those outside your internal network), as well as adding traceability, standardizing permission management, and other great social features for your content.
· Discoverability: Get your content exposed to enterprise search in a meaningful way, and, more importantly, use an interface for categorization, tagging, and content types.
· Cost of Ownership: Are there shares that can be consolidated? Do you plan on deduplicating these files from a business perspective? How is this data used, so we can start capacity planning accurately?
Today, AvePoint launched a new product that offers a unique solution to these concerns: DocAve File Share Navigator. What File Share Navigator brings to the table is the ability to add traceability, metadata, permissions, and http access to file share content without requiring the infrastructure of RBS or the overhead of migration. Content can be previewed in SharePoint, enhanced with search and permissions, and delivered directly to the end-user through direct file transfer. What problems can it solve?
· Rapid deployment of SharePoint from file share content: Installed as a simple SharePoint Solution File (WSP), File Share Navigator can help you start managing your file shares almost instantly.
· Full development management portal: Since content accessed by File Share Navigator does not fully reside in SharePoint, commonly blocked file types like .exe, or challenging files like AutoCAD, can now be managed directly. As a software company, we’ve seen great value in using this to highlight SharePoint as a tracking system for all product releases, hot fixes, and cumulative updates.
· Enterprise drop-box for quick file sharing: File Share Navigator allows you to easily share content from your internal network publically over http, backed by SharePoint’s ability to audit who has shared and accessed content.
· Secure and read-only view of file share content: File Share Navigator includes the ability to synchronize file share content with SharePoint without requiring full control of the file share, as well as the ability to preview documents and their contents directly from SharePoint’s interface without granting the ability to make changes.
· Branch offices: This is a unique challenge for companies deploying consolidated central SharePoint farms with users accessing content over the Wide Area Network (WAN). File Share Navigator allows you to expose local file shares to SharePoint’s main portal without moving the data from the regional office, allowing all of the metadata, search, and permission capabilities to shine through, but keeping all access, network traffic, and sovereignty of the data locally accessed directly through the end-user.
· Integrate with users who constantly access the back-end systems: By providing a single-source of truth, multiple SharePoint locations and file share users can all read and edit contents directly leveraging File Share Navigator, eliminating all change conflicts. Direct access to the file share remains completely uninterrupted, and a single share can be exposed to numerous SharePoint locations.
Let File Share Navigator be step one of your file share journey. As your use of SharePoint grows and you continue to embrace its extended document features, consider combining with DocAve Connector or DocAve File System Migrator tool to let you:
· Leverage SharePoint’s document management capabilities, including versioning
· Create new workflows, alerts, and embed with SharePoint’s direct process
· Retire legacy shares
· Archive stale content
· Create a comprehensive data protection strategy
AvePoint offers a full spectrum of support throughout this lifecycle, from simple testing of SharePoint, to utilizing SharePoint’s full enterprise features, to full decommissioning of file shares and migration to SharePoint. All of these steps allow you to manage file shares regardless of their current state. File shares messy, with permissions out-of-whack? Files larger than SharePoint’s recommended boundaries? Characters longer than SharePoint will allow? Files blocked by SharePoint? AvePoint helps you solve all of these challenges and more!
You’ll likely find that a combination of the above is right for you. Don’t take my word for it – download a free 30-day trial of File Share Navigator and see how it can help you today!