Cloud Computing with Box: Collaboration, Integration And Backup

Why use Box for business?

Box for Business

Box is one of the leading cloud services currently used in enterprise environments. Stocked with a myriad of options and features, Box offers solutions to help companies perform more efficiently. Currently, over 180,000 companies (including 97% of Fortune 500 companies) use Box for accessing, sharing and managing critical content. Here is how Box can help your business:

  • No more FTP: With the advent of cloud file-sharing services such as Box, FTP has taken a back seat. Now that users can simply drag-and-drop a file into a shared folder and instantly share it with multiple recipients, FTP is no longer a necessity for the majority of users. Box makes it simple to quickly upload files, organize by folders, share files by link and manage permissions for files and folders.
  • Secure file sharing: Companies that use Box Business and Box Enterprise will quickly find how simple it is to share files both inside their organization as well as externally with clients and vendors. Any file can be shared by the simple drag-and-drop method. Box also offers a tracking-and-reporting feature which allows users to be notified when anyone downloads, uploads, adds a comment to, or starts a discussion about any company files and documents. And Box is secure- even HIPAA and HITECH compliant.
  • Mobile management: The Box mobile app allows users to view, access, share and upload content from any device- smartphone, tablet, etc. Once you share folders, files or documents with other users, these users will be able to access these files from any device as well.
  • Project collaboration: Box offers excellent project management features by turning folders into centralized, shared online workspaces. Project workers can be invited to view, edit and upload files. Collaboration is simple, yet effective. Users can post comments and tasks can be assigned. Real-time updates via feed and email can quickly let project managers know when comments have been added, if other users mention you, and when files have been added, edited or received comments.
  • Document management: Box allows users to create a type of online virtual file server, where users can store, share and collaborate on files and documents. Documents can be organized by a file-folder system and Box’s sophisticated security features protect all documents during transfer and storage.

Growth of cloud services in the enterprise

As enterprise acceptance of cloud computing increases (86% of companies are currently using some form of cloud computing), so is the number of cloud services used by these enterprises (42% of enterprises have implemented some type of cloud collaboration and/or file-sharing tools).

However, many companies have adopted company-wide cloud services, mainly due to the surging popularity of Bring your own Device (BYOD), a policy that allows employees to use their own mobile devices to perform company work. Most employees prefer to be able to use their own mobile devices for company tasks. According to a recent survey, this improves productivity and enhances the relationship between IT and employees.

And many employees utilize a variety of cloud services in their company tasks as well. For instance, employees may use Evernote for quick notes and dictation; Google Docs for document management and collaboration; Basecamp for project management; and Box for secure storage and file sharing.

So we see a new trend which is called:  Bring your own Service (BYOS).

BYOS basically means that employees use their favorite cloud service or app to perform company tasks. This results in company data flowing through, and being stored on, numerous cloud services. With so much data spread out across so many platforms, data management can become an organizational nightmare. Not only that, but often multiple cloud services are used by clients, partners, consultants, board members and other employees or sources that are not directly managed by IT. So IT managers must find a solution to integrate and manage all of these cloud services and the data flowing between them, as well as available collaborative tools which can be used between various cloud services.

Integration between cloud collaborative services allows users to collaborate on files and documents, even if they don’t have the same cloud service installed on their respective devices.

Fastest growing enterprise uses for cloud apps:

  • Collaboration 30%
  • Project Development 15%
  • File Sharing 12%
  • Business intelligence 11%
  • Content Sharing 10%
  • CRM 9%
As you can see, collaboration tops the list of fastest growing uses. Being connected is critical in a fast-paced business environment and the ability to instantly connect and collaborate with multiple users across multiple platforms is essential- wasted time can quickly become wasted money. And 87% of leaders agree that cloud collaboration increases productivity. But since the vast majority of companies use multiple cloud services, this can pose a problem, as most cloud services do not offer integration with other cloud services, so collaboration between the  cloud services seems impossible. But it’s not.
Here is a look at the top 6 most commonly used apps in enterprise:
  1. Gmail – Google’s email service is used by millions of businesses due to fast, simple communications interface.
  2. Google Drive and Google Docs – Google’s powerful document management suite is used by millions of businesses as well. With the ability to create, edit, store, share and collaborate on company documents, Google Docs is the leader when it comes to document collaboration.
  3. Box – Sophisticated and powerful, Box is the leader of cloud storage providers due to its powerful file-sharing options and robust security. Box for Enterprises has many features which critical for enterprise like HIPPA compliance.
  4. Dropbox – One of the most popular cloud storage provider that offers simple file sharing with no file size limits.
  5. SkyDrive and Office 365 – Microsoft’s cloud offering allows users to store and share files in the cloud and is integrated with Microsoft Office and other Microsoft products.
  6. Evernote – Much more than a simple note-taking app, Evernote allows users to create notes, checklists, take photos, record audio clips, search for text in photos, create an organized database of notes using Evernote’s superior tagging system and much more.

Many employees use services not approved by IT

Many enterprise IT departments try to control which cloud services employees will be allowed to use for company tasks. So the IT manager determines if cloud services should be used or not, and then disallow employees from using cloud services that they believe should not be used. However, this can cause conflict with many employees that have their favorite cloud services they prefer to use, and if IT does not approve their cloud service, they may not be as efficient. Not only that, but 40% of employees believe that using cloud services which are not approved by IT will improve their efficiency, and this results in many employees going behind the company’s back and using their preferred cloud service anyways.

As an example, let’s say an employee uses Evernote for company tasks on a daily basis- taking notes in meetings and phone calls, snagging articles from the web for research, taking snapshots and creating short audio clips. They become used to the way Evernote performs and become accustomed to using it for all of these tasks. Over time, they have created a large database of documents, web articles, notes, photos and audio clips, and they have used Evernote’s intricate tagging system to make this database easily searchable. However, the IT department only allows using Office 365 OneNote and thus disallows usage of Evernote for company tasks. The employee can learn to use a new, unfamiliar service (which does not have a note taking application for iPhone or iMac), or they may use Evernote anyways and attempt to hide it. The same happens for other cloud services- Gmail, Dropbox, SkyDrive, etc. One out of every five employees use cloud storage software not approved by IT to perform their everyday company activities.

In efforts to curb usage of unapproved company services, IT may block these services. But just how well does blocking cloud services work? Currently, 31% of companies block Gmail for company use, while 34% block Box and 29% block Dropbox. Yet only 1% block RapidGator, a service with a much higher risk than the previously mentioned services. But due to BYOD it is nearly impossible to completely prevent usage of unapproved clouds.  IT policies should clearly define which cloud services are allowed, but before these policies are created, they should gather user input from employees, as well as statistical data about productivity.  And since some employees are going to use the cloud services of their choice anyways, it would be a much wiser decision to add these cloud services to the company policy, but perhaps add stricter monitoring of company data that passes through these services.

The challenges that IT face

There are two critical challenges that IT must face and manage when a company uses multiple cloud services.

Identity management: How to manage employees identities and authentication information for all these cloud services.

Cloud data management: There is so much data spread out across multiple cloud services. How to manage it? How to integrate it for better collaboration? And how to back it up?

Here is our take on it:

How to manage numerous passwords and login authentication measures

With all of these multiple cloud services being used comes a high number of different passwords and authentication values. And of course with so many passwords and login authorization methods to remember, a person can go mad trying to keep up with them all. Or users can resort to posting sticky notes all over their office or keeping a list of all the passwords on their computer- neither one of which is a very secure option when dealing with sensitive company information. A much better solution is to deploy single sign-on services for all enterprise workers.

Single sign-on services work by allowing users to create a single password which then signs them into all of the company accounts that they have access to. For instance- If a worker uses multiple cloud services such as Evernote, Google Drive, Box, Basecamp, Dropbox, SkyDrive and Gmail for company duties, this can be a lot of passwords to try to remember. But a single sign-on service will sign the worker into all of these accounts through a single password. Now you may be thinking- what if I just use the same password for all of these accounts anyways, wouldn’t that work just as well? Not quite- since a single sign-on service does just what it says- a single sign-on. That means you only have to enter the password a single time to be signed into all of these cloud accounts, instead of entering the same password over and over again for each one.

The top 3 single sign-on providers are:

  • Okta (Click here to see a FAQ on Okta with cloudHQ)
  • OneLogin (Click here to see a FAQ on OneLogin with cloudHQ)
  • Centrify (Click here to see a FAQ on Centrify with cloudHQ)

The benefits of using single sign-on and identity management system include:

  • A virtual password vault that instantly logs users into multiple platforms with a single password.
  • Drastically reduces the number of passwords and login authentication values that must be remembered.
  • Reduces the time spent re-entering passwords and login authentication values for the same login identity.
  • Fewer tech support calls about passwords results in IT cost reduction.
  • Incorporating new employees into the system
  • Revoking access to company accounts when an employee has been terminated, quits or no longer needs access to company accounts.

Identity management

Single sign-on works by managing the identity of users who access corporate accounts by allowing users to login with a single password which then automatically logs them in to all of their corporate cloud app services. This allows users to instantly access and share files across multiple platforms with a single login. Once an employee logs in with the password, they will be able to access accounts such as the company email and cloud accounts such as Google Drive, Box, SkyDrive, Dropbox, etc. And the best part- it drastically reduces security risks by employees that post their numerous passwords and login information on sticky notes around their desk area, as well as employees who keep all their passwords and login information stored in a text file on their computer.

Onboarding

The acquisitions and incorporation of new employees into the system can be time-consuming and costly, especially when dealing with a high number of accounts. It’s a much simpler process to give new employees a single password to be used to login to multiple company accounts. This makes it simple for IT to manage the new employee’s identity in case tech support is needed, and it can also be used to quickly revoke access if needed.

Deprovisioning

Single sign-on helps the expedition of deprovisioning. If an employee resigns or gets terminated, access to company accounts must be revoked as quickly as possible. There are numerous cases of disgruntled employees or ex-employees deleting data in revenge for being fired or disciplined. If a company is using a single sign-on provider, the revocation process is simple and quick as the revocation of a single password will eliminate the ex-employee’s access to multiple accounts. If a company is not using a single sign-on provider, the process can be a cumbersome and time-consuming task of going through each company account that the employee has access to and revoking access manually.

Cost-reduction

In addition to onboarding and deprovisioning cost-reduction, single sign-on reduces IT costs such as forgotten passwords, locked accounts, help-desk tech support calls and more. These costs can range anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars per year for companies to manage their identity infrastructure. A company with 1,000 employees can expect to pay around $300,000 or more per year for the simple process of resetting passwords, not to mention the lost productivity of employees while they wait to regain access. And of course this cost rises with a higher number of employees and higher number of systems that are managed by the IT infrastructure. If employees only have one password to remember, this drastically cuts down on costs of tech support and lost productivity.

Cloud Data Management 

Since this is a cloudHQ blog and we are discussing “cloud data management,” we will discuss how cloudHQ can solve this cloud data management problem since we can manage replication of employee data for enterprise cloud app services, and we can also provide secure backup of data to prevent data loss.

cloudHQ can take the employee data from all of these different platforms and replicate it to a centralized location, where it can be accessed and reviewed by management. CloudHQ also allows the data to be collaborated on and provides real-time backup services. Here is how it works.

So far we have determined that multiple cloud services are being used by companies which results in the flow of company data flowing across many different platforms. For instance- if a company uses Box for storage and file sharing, Google Drive for document management, Evernote for quick notes and dictation, and Basecamp for project management, this leaves a lot of data scattered across multiple platforms. Most cloud service providers do not offer integration with other cloud services because they only want you to use their cloud services.

Also data can quickly become misplaced, lost or deleted.

This results in two challenges: collaboration and data management.

Collaboration

Collaboration between different cloud services can be a difficult task. It typically involves the manual transfer of data between cloud services in order for users to collaborate on the same document or file. So if a file needs to be collaborated on with multiple users, but each user prefers a different cloud service, this means that after each user revises the file, it must be manually uploaded to the other cloud services in order for other users to revise the file.  But cloudHQ provides collaboration through integration. So once a company uses cloudHQ, collaboration on the same file can be used by multiple users across multiple cloud platforms. For example, the same document can be collaborated on in Google Drive, SkyDrive and other cloud services at the same time.

Data Management

Disorganization can cost companies time and money. Lost or misplaced files and documents such as contracts or sales agreements can cost the company lost sales. Files need to be accessible and easily searchable at all times, but with files being created, revised, deleted and stored on a daily basis across multiple cloud services, it can quickly turn into an organizational nightmare. But cloudHQ has the solution.

Using cloudHQ, users can have data from multiple cloud services replicated to Box to create a single, centralized database with all of the data neatly organized and securely stored there. It’s like a mobile office with all the company file cabinets that follows you everywhere you go. It can be accessed by employees in any region, even overseas, as long as there is internet access. This makes it simple to have important information in all the right places, accessible by all the right people. In the next several sections, we will take an in-depth look at how simple it is to create sync pairs between various cloud services and Box, including how to create the centralized database for complete organization.

How cloudHQ enhances collaboration through integration

Here is a quick scenario of how cloudHQ helps enterprises with cloud integration. In this example, we will look at how cloudHQ helps with integrating the following cloud services:

  • Evernote with Box
  • Basecamp with Box
  • Google Drive with Box
  • Google Gmail with Box
  • Dropbox with Box

Evernote to Box

Many employees prefer to use Evernote for quick notes, photos, audio clips, etc. The excellent tagging system within Evernote is an organizational dream and the ability to search for text within photos is extremely useful as well. The cloudHQ cloud integration system provides real-time, two-way sync of employee’s Evernote notes with their Box accounts. And users can choose how they get their notes exported- for instance, a user can choose to receive their Evernote notes in PDF, OpenOffice format, HTML format, TXT format, or Microsoft Word format.

Now all Evernote notes are stored securely in Box, are organized in folders aptly named after Evernote notebooks and notebook stacks, and can be easily shared via the excellent Box sharing capability. Since the sync is two-way, users can also upload documents to Evernote simply by dropping them into a shared Box folder.

So to recap- any time a new note is created or uploaded to Evernote, it will be instantly replicated to a corresponding folder in Box. If revisions are made to any existing files, the revisions are instantly replicated to the corresponding files in Box. And vice-versa: if any files or documents are dropped into the shared Box folders, they will be instantly replicated to Evernote. Revisions will be replicated as well. And it all happens in real-time.

Basecamp to Box

Basecamp is one of the most popular cloud services for project management. But the data that’s created in or added to Basecamp stays in Basecamp. If it needs to be accessed or collaborated on in a separate cloud service it must be manually added. But cloudHQ has a simple solution- cloud integration.

The cloudHQ cloud integration service provides real-time, two-way sync of employees’ or other user users’ Basecamp project files with their Box accounts. So all Basecamp project files, attachments and other files and information (To-Dos, text documents, conversations, etc.) can be shared, edited or even created via Box. Here is how:

Since cloudHQ provides a two-way sync between Basecamp and Box, all project files and entered information in Basecamp is instantly replicated to Box. Revisions to existing files will be instantly replicated to Box. And files and documents can be dropped into the Box folder in order to upload them instantly to Basecamp. This makes all information and files quickly accessible between employees and other users and also provides a complete backup of all Basecamp files to Box in case of any data loss incidents.

Dropbox to Box

Many users use Dropbox for its simple interface and no file-size-sharing limits. But if you need to transfer files between the two cloud services, cloudHQ provides the solution. Perhaps a user is using Dropbox for interaction with their customers or partners, in which case cloudHQ ensures that all Dropbox files (including shared files) will be automatically replicated to Box. Or perhaps some of the team members use private Dropbox accounts for specific files, in which case cloudHQ can be used to replicate all files directly to Box in real-time.

Gmail to Box

Gmail is one of the most popular cloud-based email services for enterprises and there are several reasons why users sync their Gmail emails to Box.

All emails and attachments saved in folders and organized by label name. New labels can be created simply by creating a folder with the new label name in Box, and this instantly syncs with Gmail.

Complete backup of all Gmail emails and attachments. This can be useful in case a user ever loses access to their Gmail account or experiences data loss. Although rare, some users have lost access to their Google accounts due to being flagged for wrongful ToS violation. Even accounts that are restored are not foolproof- in some cases data was not able to be restored. This can result in the loss of years of important and saved emails and attachments.

Create an archive of all emails and attachments for simple searching. By backing up all Gmail emails and attachments to Box, an easily searchable database is created that is available both online and offline. So if users find themselves working in an area without internet access, they will still have complete access to the entire Gmail account.

Google Drive to Box

Google Drive is one of the most popular and commonly used cloud services in enterprises. One of the reasons is because of the excellent collaboration capabilities it offers- up to 50 users can collaborate on a single document. There are several reasons why users would want to use cloudHQ to create two-way sync from Google Drive to Box. Collaboration is one of the main reasons. This allows users to reach across multiple cloud services to collaborate on the same document. By integrating Google Drive with Box, this allows users that create, upload or collaborate on documents in Google Drive to have these documents exported in Microsoft Word, PDF or OpenOffice format to a shared folder in Box. And because the sync is two-way, documents can be tossed into the shared Box folder which will automatically upload them to Google Drive where they can be accessed, revised, shared and collaborated on. And all of this sync happens in real-time.

Cloud backup with Box

Data loss is actually not all that uncommon- as a matter of fact, one out of three companies that use cloud computing have experienced some type of data loss involving SaaS. Many leading cloud services have experienced data loss as well- including Dropbox, Google Drive, Gmail, Dropbox, Evernote and more, as well as high-profile individuals such as renowned tech writer Mat Honan, who lost everything to a hacking incident.

Cloud security is still the top issue for company leaders, especially in BYOD environments. And while security in the cloud has become much stronger in recent times, there are a number of reasons companies should be cautious including the incidents noted above, cloud lock-in, weak mobile policies, employee revenge, and more. The list of ‘Top 10 Cloud Security Threats In 2013’ offers more insight into some of the top security challenges that companies may face in the cloud.

Recent studies have shown that 25% of businesses don’t reopen after a data loss incident due to a natural disaster and 70% of small businesses go out of business within a year after experiencing a major data loss incident.

The solution to data loss in the cloud is cloudHQ. By combining the sophisticated security features of Box with cloudHQ’s powerful cloud backup service, company leaders can rest a little easier at night knowing their company data is securely backed up on Box servers. Here is how it works:

Let’s say your company uses Google Drive for document management. The majority of these files and documents are confidential and many contain sensitive company information. Also, many of these files are contracts, financial records, sales reports, client information and other documents that if lost- could potentially put your company under. cloudHQ replicates these files from Google Drive (or other cloud services) to Box. The replication occurs in real-time as files are added or modified in Google Drive. So now if any type of data loss incident occurs in Google Drive, all files are securely stored in Box and can be restored quickly. And of course cloudHQ is not limited to Google Drive and Box, click here to see all of the cloud services that cloudHQ is compatible with. However, with Box’s leading cloud security features, it is recommended to be the backup service for ultimate security.

*Hint: if your company only uses Box, cloudHQ allows users to create replication from one Box account to a backup Box account.

Conclusion

The combination of cloudHQ and Box creates a powerful cloud integration and backup system for businesses and enterprises. The ability to be connected to all cloud services at all times is essential for business productivity. CloudHQ is the glue that can hold an entire company together by integrating the cloud data from multiple cloud services and creating a single, centralized and easily searchable company database. And data backup is critical in a time when data loss incidents can cost thousands or even millions of dollars.

Currently, cloudHQ syncs over 10 million files per day for businesses utilizing the sophisticated cloud integration features that cloudHQ offers. Schedule a consultation with cloudHQ – fully integrated with Box Business and Box Enterprise. And cloudHQ offers a fully-functional, 15-day free trial.

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