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Monday April 28th 2014 | 11:54

Cloud-based collaboration: It's better together

Aside from data security concerns, a topic we recently examined here, online (Cloud-based) collaboration sites can also present IT management and integration issues. For many, such sites are seen as separate from traditional email and file transfer systems, meaning they are procured, developed and managed differently, with solutions kept in insolation from one another.
By taking this approach, however, organisations risk adding layers of complexity to their IT infrastructure – resulting in data silos, additional ongoing management overhead and low end-user take up.
Systems in silo
In the absence of a centrally managed solution, end-users often select collaboration sites on an ad-hoc basis, away from existing solutions for email and file transfer. Consequently, IT staff and senior managers end up with another system to manage and reduced visibility over what information is being shared where and with whom, both inside and outside of their organisation’s network boundary. Similarly, managing multiple sets of credentials for different collaboration, email and file transfer systems can create problems for users, who may resort to using other, less secure file sharing mechanisms as an answer to this. Not only does this heighten the risk of data breaches but it also impacts efficiency – one of the very reasons these services are used in the first place.
Moreover, even when solutions are procured centrally, if they don’t integrate with existing infrastructure, organisations will continue to risk added complexity and, consequently, the cost-effectiveness of their chosen solution.
The benefits of an integrated approach to online collaboration
To simplify this process and increase control over the information that employees are sharing with internal peers and external third parties, an integrated approach to data management must be taken.
This potentially involves procuring online collaboration solutions as part of a broad information sharing platform that also includes email and file transfer functionality. Moreover, it is also important that collaboration tools integrate well with an organisations’ existing IT infrastructure, such as archive and document management systems, to improve workflow and business processes.
Cloud solutions are championed for increasing efficiency and reducing costs – however a disjointed approach to procuring such platforms risks jeopardising these benefits. 

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