The Jig is Up: What are Dropbox Team Spaces and Why it’s (Really) Time to Ditch Your File Servers

The days of using file servers to store business-critical content are coming to an end. Good riddance, as they’re expensive, require irritating technologies like VPN’s, are feature lacking, and are generally not secure.

Last year we saw Dropbox release a number of awesome new features including Smart Sync and Dropbox Paper. Smart Sync allows users to access and browse through massive amounts of content without taking up space on their hard drives, much like a mounted drive from a file server. Dropbox’s next step towards making file servers a thing of the past is Dropbox Team Spaces.

Cloud FastPath migrate a lot of content and users to Dropbox; in 2017 we moved well over a petabyte of content into the platform. While we’ve seen our customers be very successful once they migrate to Dropbox, we asked some of the admins who are responsible for some of the largest Dropbox deployments: what do you miss about your file servers?

The answer: nested permissions.

We think Dropbox might have been asking the same questions

So What’s the Big Deal?

The two most major differences between a typical file server environment and a platform like Dropbox were the ability to mount large directories onto a user machine and permissions structures. Dropbox addressed the mounting issue with Smart Sync and now the permissions structure has been solved with Team Spaces. How has Dropbox solved it and why is this important?

Central Management for All Content

Dropbox Team Spaces is the new way a company will be organized in Dropbox. Dropbox Team Spaces ties users, Shared Folders, and Team Folders together in a way that enables hundreds to tens of thousands of users to work together.

This means that admins can now manage all of the different types of content in one single place. User spaces (equivalent to home drives), Shared Folders (equivalent to project or group shares), and Team Folders (equivalent to department drives/directories), will all seamlessly live together. Unlike some other platforms, Dropbox Business does not require two or more silos of information that IT has to manage and users have to navigate through. 

So, now this:

Becomes this:

Nested Permissions

Great for organization, better for migration.

Nested permissions and sharing mean your company’s Dropbox is more organized, and more secure. Users can now share a subdirectory or file without granting access to the other contents of the directory! This means less folders and files with unique permissions high up in the directory, and fewer instances of accidental oversharing. For example, in the image above, Sarah can create a subfolder in the shared folder

Sarah-John Share” and explicitly give access to a person or group other than John. When John navigates to the Sarah-John Share” folder, he will have access to everything in the folder except the one Sarah restricted. The types of permissions users can give are: can view”, can edit”, and no access”.

Furthermore, Team Spaces and nested permissions means with Cloud FastPath you can now take the permissions structure and ACL’s from a typical file server setup and automatically replicate them in Dropbox. Before, Cloud FastPath had to apply permissions mapping automation to ensure file server content could be brought to Dropbox. Now all of your users, groups, permissions, ACLs, and ownership can be brought into the platform even more seamlessly, speeding up the migration and simplifying end-user adoption.

Tiered Admin Roles

The addition of Team Spaces also brings another powerful feature: the ability to assign administrative roles. The new roles are the following:

  • Team admin
  • User management admin
  • Support admin

The roles are nicely tiered so you can assign helpdesk to handle simple things like password resets, team and user management to the mid-level admins, and global admins have all capabilities in the team admin role.

Visit this link for more information the new roles and how the permissions compare. 

So that’s it! All in all, Dropbox is investing heavily into the admin experience and feature set. And we’re excited to see nested permissions now supported in Dropbox which will make the migration experience with Cloud FastPath even more seamless.

For more information on Team Spaces, go here, reach out to your Dropbox account manager, or ask us