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Why Cloud File Sync & Share ≠ Endpoint Data Protection

As Chief Architect for the Americas at CTERA, I have the opportunity to meet with a lot of organizations across several different industries. I very much enjoy meeting new people, helping them solve various file services and cloud modernization challenges, and learning about various IT environments.

As part of this process, I also often hear misconceptions about cloud technologies. One misconception in particular that we often hear in meetings is the idea that file sync and share, or content collaboration tools, can serve as an effective alternative to and replacement for endpoint data protection.

In general, an enterprise business continuity/disaster recovery strategy varies greatly from that of productivity or content management strategies. One is focused on ensuring an organization can recover from any data loss or disaster scenario, where the other is centered around providing users with the tools they need to collaborate with one another and drive productivity.

But it’s no fault of customers that they think FSS can serve as an endpoint data protection enterprise solution, file sharing vendors market themselves that way and create confusion in the market.

Let’s set the record straight. Given that CTERA offers a unified platform comprising both enterprise collaboration and protection solutions, I have a good understanding of the capabilities and limitations of each, and how well they work in tandem with one another. In short, file sharing and collaboration solutions today cannot replace the endpoint backup tools needed for proper enterprise data protection.

Here are my key reasons why:

  • EFSS does not protect all user data on a laptop or desktop. Typical file sharing solutions require users to write business-related data into one designated folder – and that is the only folder the solution touches. Other user data is not protected in an EFSS-only scenario.
  • EFSS does not back up every version of every file. If a wrong version is chosen for roll-back as a restore copy, then all the newer versions will be lost.
  • EFSS does not offer easy recovery options. Rolling back files after a data loss event can be a cumbersome, file-by-file process. Additionally, EFSS tools are unable to address file dependencies and links (i.e. linked Excel spreadsheets or Word documents).

An enterprise endpoint backup solution will:

  • Protect all user data
  • Back up all file versions and ensures recovery points are consistent across the entire file system
  • Make file system recoveries as quick and painless as possible

Don’t get me wrong; EFSS/CCP solutions are great for user productivity and collaboration, and this post is not meant to be used to question their validity as an enterprise solution. It’s simply the case that there are endpoint data protection requirements that a file sharing solution cannot meet.

In fact, Gartner said as much in a 2017 report focused on this very topic. ”File sync and share solutions were not designed to enable corporate IT to control their own recovery in the face of user data loss after malicious attacks,” the authors wrote. “I&O leaders need to evaluate their requirements for investing in a separate backup system for cloud EFSS.”

This is why CTERA offers full-fledged enterprise solutions for both content collaboration and data protection from a single, unified platform. Our platform spans the entire continuum of enterprise file services, from file access and sync to backup and recovery.

Looking for secure content collaboration across internal and external users? CTERA Drive Share is a great fit.

Looking for a private endpoint backup solution that can be centrally managed at large scale? CTERA Drive Protect is a great solution.

Or, like so many CTERA customers today, deploy both CTERA Drive solutions from your choice of cloud infrastructure and enjoy the benefits of the full range of file services. (And don’t forget how the two solutions can be leveraged in tandem to deliver a ransomware remediation solution with nearly zero RPO.)

If you have any questions on EFSS vs. backup, or have any other popular IT ideas that you’d like to discuss, please feel free to reach out to me anytime.

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