What Dropbox Smart Sync Means for File Server Displacement

Since partnering with Dropbox, Tervela’s Cloud FastPath has pushed hundreds of terabytes and tens of thousands of users from on-premises systems into the cloud-based collaboration platform. And with our help, organizations all over the world like News Corp are making their aging on-premises file servers a thing of the past. We expect this trend to continue and even accelerate, especially with the addition of Smart Sync to Dropbox’s ever-growing feature set.

So why is Smart Sync such a key feature for organizations looking to decommission their on-premises file servers, and how will collaboration unfold as this new capability rolls out? We think one of the coolest things about Smart Sync is that it extends the benefits of widespread file and folder access across an entire organization. And that means users can browse and access large files without taking up a huge amount of space on their hard drives.

This is quite a leap forward, since very large files with content owned by groups and within complicated folder hierarchies were once unable to be accessed in the cloud. With Smart Sync, these types of files and folders can be migrated in bulk, unlocking all the sharing advantages that come with Dropbox. Now employees can access files from virtually anywhere — no matter their file size — significantly enhancing team productivity and collaboration.

What’s more, Smart Sync opens up a number of new opportunities for both end users and IT pros:

For End Users

With Dropbox Smart Sync, users can browse through hundreds or thousands of large files without downloading them or taking up precious storage space on their hard drives. This ubiquitous access means that every file a user needs is just a click away.

With applications on their device, users can easily choose, the content they want to access and work on, and choose whether they want to keep it in the cloud or sync it to their device.

Nested folders and files can be kept exclusively in the cloud, only or synced locally.

Users can quickly and easily browse very large files – without taking up any space on their hard drives.

For users, Smart Sync opens up the ability to collaborate on a larger set of files within an organization. For IT and the organization as a whole, there are numerous benefits as well.

For IT

Centrally managed file storage is as old as computing itself. But purchasing and maintaining large amounts of storage and software to give users access to their files has serious limitations.

First, employees want to collaborate with their coworkers and colleagues across the world on any device. Addressing these needs with a classic file server setup usually ends up with an inadequate and costly solution. Then there’s the planning, hardware costs, software costs, installation and ongoing maintenance required for providing a secure high-availability file storage solution – and all of the questions it creates for your department:

Should I buy purpose-built HA storage?
Maybe a Windows server with DFS?
Or a SAN and sharing over NFS or iSCSI?

Any of the above options, as well as the multitude of other on-premises storage systems, requires a substantial up-front investment. Even more costly is the ongoing maintenance, backup, and support for the systems. For every fully-redundant file system, an organization typically needs:

  • A SAN admin
  • A backup admin
  • A VM admin
  • Helpdesk support

That’s a lot of support. In addition, scaling primary storage and the corresponding backup systems becomes even more costly and burdensome as your data needs scale.

Smart Sync provides a better means of file access for users – without downtime. And after all business-critical content has been migrated to Dropbox, users can easily browse through and access terabytes of data without requiring IT to build, monitor, maintain and backup storage systems. Dropbox Smart Sync means your organization can finally collaborate at scale.

Additional benefits include:

High Levels of Security
Dropbox’s security team is comprised of dozens of experts, while most customers have limited if any, dedicated security staff. By leveraging their strong security posture, your IT department no longer has to maintain custom security policies across multiple file systems, and it becomes easier to provide top-down admin control over files.

Freed Up IT Resources
With Dropbox, the extensive software that was once required to access files on a server is no longer needed. Users can easily access any files they have permissions for, securely, with only their username and password (or by using SSO). Also, admins can set the default behavior of Smart Sync to automatically sync or leave data in the cloud when a user joins a team or folder for an extremely thin approach to device storage.

New as of April 2018: Team Selective Sync

While Smart Sync alone provides businesses with a host of options for syncing files and folders among team members, Dropbox has introduced a new feature that provides organizations with the option to sync more selectively, excluding large directories or Team Folders in bulk. This options, called Team Selective Sync, ensures that admins can control the amount of content synced and stored on user devices. When deploying, Dropbox and Smart Sync, admins can now exclude content to be synced. This hastens and expedites deployment and further empowers organizations to enhance their collaborative and security potential.

With the combination of Team Folders and Smart Sync, IT can centrally manage content, users and sharing behaviors while Dropbox takes care of scaling the collaboration platform and securing your organization’s files. The next step is to migrate all of your organization’s content into Dropbox to take advantage of all of the features Smart Sync offers.

Read our post: What Dropbox Team Folders Means for your Organization
Look for our upcoming post on how Dropbox security and admin controls ensure your content is safe and sound