Sharing in the Cloud: What Are The Differences?

If cloud platforms are designed to help teams and individual users collaborate, then one of the most important aspects of those platforms must be sharing. Sharing files, folders, and documents allows users within an organization to connect, work, and ensure enterprise-wide communication.

Cloud FastPath is dedicated to providing organizations with the perfect migration tool, and ensuring secure and efficient file transfer to the cloud platform of their choice. As such, we’ve investigated the sharing capabilities of major cloud collaboration platforms, and compiled our findings here. Take a look:

Sharing Options in Office 365

Microsoft’s Office 365 provides a broad range of platforms that organizations can use for sharing and storage.

Office 365, backed by SharePoint, provides multiple options for sharing between users working on long-term projects. Team Sites provides an IM-like means to quickly share information and files; while SharePoint Sites and Site Collections provide a secure space to store files, and are easily managed by admins. Yammer provides internal social sharing networks for files that demand organization-wide attention. Additionally users have the option of Outlook email sites, which allow for content sharing in an environment that’s less “real-time” than the IM option of Teams, but also more secure.

With Office 365, diversity is the name of the game. Different environments provide different approaches to sharing, because Microsoft understands that sharing needs among users are always changing.

Via SharePoint and OneDrive users are able to control who specifically has access to the files they share. When creating a link to a file, these platforms give the creator a number of options to administrate that access. The link can be made available:

  • To anyone who receives the link;
  • To members of your organization only;
  • To specific individuals, such as team members or members of a department.

Admins, too, have the ability to control access to sites, though the level of admin control varies depending on what kind of site we’re discussing. Over SharePoint sites, admins have the most control, while Team Sites are far harder to govern. Outlook sites are reinforced with added security and an intermediate level of admin control, but it’s important for users and admins to work together to develop an understanding of what kind of files and data should be shared and stored where, within the Office 365 platform.

Office 365 provides a range of sharing settings, all of which can be used to enhance productivity and decrease security concerns.

At first, the sheer bulk of sites and provisions can be overwhelming, but once users understand the nuances of the platform, that diversity becomes a major boon to collaboration. The multitude of sharing options within Office 365 is devised to meet a variety of needs, and that buffet of sharing options can be immensely powerful for an organization.

Sharing Options in Dropbox Business

Much like Office 365, Dropbox has multiple tiers of storage and sharing, even if the platform is structured differently. On the most basic level users can create individual folders containing files the sharing of which they can easily dictate, creating links to those files that will only work for those to whom they have granted explicit permission.

One level up, Dropbox Business allows for the creation of a team folder. Within a team folder, users can save relevant documents to ongoing projects. In some cases only four or five users might have access to that folder. In others, that folder might be accessible to an entire department. To share with relevant users, then, one need only place a file in the team folder, rather than having to share with every single member of a department or team one by one.

Because of the complex nature of sharing, Dropbox Business also ensures that users have multiple levels of accessibility they can grant for any given document. Want someone to be able to view a file but not download it? Want someone to be able to download a file but not edit it? All of these are options, enhancing the range of sharing capabilities within Dropbox Business.

On top of this, administrators have the further ability to monitor sharing in real-time. From the Dropbox Business admin console, administrators can see individual users’ sharing behaviors: what they’re sharing, and with whom they’re sharing it. Via this feature, admins can regulate a given user’s sharing ability and quickly see if any individual is distributing access of sensitive files to those who shouldn’t have access. This functionality drastically cuts down on potentially damaging cases of improper distribution of secure files, and ensures the easy regulation of what users have access to what files and what sharing capabilities of those files are accessible to them.

Sharing Options in Box

Box allows users and teams to create file structures similar to those in Dropbox, granting access to individual files via easy Box-made links or to entire folders of relevant content. With Box, users and teams can build folders and spaces to which all team, group, or department members have access, where files are updated in real-time to prevent the hassle of sending multiple drafts back and forth and forth and back. Access to these files can be dictated by the owner of the team folder or by Box account administrators, ensuring that potentially sensitive files aren’t seen by just anyone. Additionally, users and teams have the ability to share documents with people outside of the company firewall who have been granted viewing permissions, simply by emailing or IM-ing them a link to that document.

Box further understands the sharing of files among users and groups is a potentially tricky endeavor, which is why the Box platform provides administrators with a robust suite of options to allow and restrict sharing, and ensure the security of their organization’s data. A new and improved admin analytics platform allows admins to see file-by-file and folder-by-folder views of sharing and access events. It further allows admins to track individual user sharing activity, and closely monitor for unusual downloading behaviors and potential sharing violations. On both a large and small scale, the Box admin console ensures that administrators are able to keep very close track of what folders and files are being shared with and accessed by what members of an organization.

Sharing Options in Google Drive

With Google Team Drives, users have access to the sharing abilities many are familiar with from Google Drive, while admins have enhanced powers to structure and restrict sharing permissions.

Much like other platforms, Team Drives gives organizations and users the ability to create drives specific to a team or department, to which all relevant users have access. Files shared via these drives are updated in real-time so that all users are able to view changes as they happen, drastically shaving time off collaborative projects. Users can create files within their own personal drives and relocate them to a Team Drive so that they needn’t worry about sending individual access links to potentially dozens of important collaborators.

Where Team Drives really shines is in its administrative capabilities. When viewing a file or folder, admins have the ability to easily govern how that file or folder can be accessed or shared. In addition to deciding which relevant users have access, they can restrict how those users grant access to additional collaborators. Admins can decide:

  • to make sure a file or folder isn’t shared with non-organization members;
  • to make sure a file or folder isn’t shared with non-approved users within an organization;
  • to dictate whether the content of a folder is able to be downloaded, shared via-link, copied, or printed;
  • to restrict users granted access to a file or folder from amending sharing settings.

Like Box, Team Drives also ensures that administrators can monitor sharing behavior to better understand what is being shared and with whom. Users are searchable individually, so admins can view specific personal sharing behavior as easily as they can see the shifting permissions of a folder within Drives.

Understanding Sharing is Crucial to Attaining Success in the Cloud

One of the major reasons organizations opt to migrate to cloud platforms is their potential for sharing and collaboration. Finding the perfect cloud platform for your organization begins with identifying your sharing and collaboration needs and searching for a platform that suits those needs.

Understanding how different platforms handle sharing is crucial. Improper sharing can lead to disorganization, loss of productivity, and major data security risks. By comprehending the structure of user sharing privileges and administrator capabilities and how those defer across the myriad cloud solutions available, you put yourself in a position to not only overcoming the dangers of improper sharing, but optimizing your use of the cloud as a collaborative tool. The right cloud collaboration platform can be of incalculable benefit to organizations and the users within them. It can provide security, communication, organizational, and content sharing tools that guarantee the utmost success.

Understanding sharing, and finding the best platform to help you do it, can be the beginning of a new chapter for your organization.

That’s what we want to share with you.