Citrix is better known for its virtual desktop technologies and as a provider of mobile workspaces for enterprises. But tucked into the company's vast product portfolio you'll find ShareFile, a secure, cloud-based file sync, share, and collaboration platform for businesses of all sizes.
Describing it as a "built-for-business version of Dropbox," Trevor Jones, vertical director at Citrix, said small and midsized businesses are adopting ShareFile for myriad reasons, but mainly because of its manageability and a feature set that blends data security with ease-of-use.
Content Management in the Cloud
In 2011, Citrix acquired ShareFile to extend its business data and content management to the cloud and to accelerate the company's "follow-me-data strategy." Since then, ShareFile has evolved from its modest beginnings as a cloud storage provider to a full-fledged mobile data management platform, according to Jones. It even helped inspire Citrix Workspace Cloud, an ambitious new offering that lets enterprises pull together business apps, data, and virtual desktops and deliver cloud-delivered mobile workspaces.
ShareFile is more than a mobile app that allows small business workers to share Word documents and PowerPoint presentations, Jones emphasized, although the system can certainly accommodate for those use cases. Instead, ShareFile is designed to act as a "central repository for business files" if needed, including all the access and security controls for end-to-end content and data storage management.
The platform's uses are as varied as its customers, said Jones. For example, a small media production company can use ShareFile for "large and secure A-to-B transfers" of massive files. "Some people need encryption, some have huge video files," he continued.
Not keen on keeping your data on someone else's servers? "ShareFile gives you the option to store on the cloud or on-premises," said Jones. Using a Windows Server, small businesses can keep their data on-site while using ShareFile's file sync, share, and access-management capabilities.
Although ShareFile integrates with Microsoft Active Directory, the popular business identity management platform, it's not a prerequisite for controlling data access and movement across the platform. Small businesses with five to 10 workers generally use the built-in user-management tool to control access.
Create Custom Client Portals
Working with a client on a project, particularly one that's big or complex, is challenging enough without keeping track of shareable URLs. ShareFile's custom client-portal feature allows small businesses to establish an online hub, of sorts, that clients or vendors outside the firm can access using a Web browser.
"It routes them to a folder where they only see their files," said Jones. Internal staffers can access and update files as they're accustomed to while selectively sharing with external contributors and partners.
Jones added that employees don’t need to worry about stepping on one another's shoes while collaborating on a file. ShareFile features automatic version control, which lets workers make changes—even ill-advised ones—"without losing all the stuff of old versions," Jones said. Essentially, the days of proposal_ver_001.docx and other convoluted file naming conventions are over.
You can also gather electronic signatures, courtesy of the RightSignature add-on, which integrates with ShareFile. Another Citrix acquisition, RightSignature eliminates the need to fax documents or set up a meeting to sign a stack of printed contracts.
Requesting a customer's John Hancock is a matter of selecting the Get Signature option from a file's drop down menu. Signers can type in their names or use a mouse, touchscreen, or trackpad to make it official.
And the process is completely official, stressed Jones. "It is the only [e-signature] tool endorsed by the American Bar Association," he said.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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