Cloud access from mobile devices is increasingly becoming a requirement for corporate mobile devices and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs. While Citrix is perhaps best known for network tools and the love/hate relationship some of us have with GoToMeeting, ShareFile is a worthy entry into the cloud storage race. From the ShareFile Mobile app to the backend management tools, it's a solid and well-implemented solution for mobile workers.
Getting started with ShareFile on Android
Citrix paid attention to the user experience with this app. When you install it on your Android device, it asks for the following:
- Storage to modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
- Phone calls to read phone status and identity
- Network Communication for full network access
- Your personal information to read your call log and your contacts
The requested information drives some of the ShareFile Mobile App features that help set the collaboration/sharing features apart from others in the market.
ShareFile also supports Active Directory (AD), which we saw in technology solutions like Centrify Mobile and Splashtop for Good. With ShareFile supporting AD, I think we'll see more mobile client apps for cloud storage adopt it as a standard in the future.
Manage files with ShareFile on AndroidDuring the writing of this post, I tested the ShareFile app on a Google Nexus 7 and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (Figure A). When you open the ShareFile app, an easy-to-follow user interface greets you. The major elements include:
- File Box, which is a temporary holding area for files
- Favorite Folders so you can create a list of your favorite frequently accessed folders
- Folders you create for your files
The ShareFile Mobile app main screen.
When you open a folder of files in the app, you have some more options to play around with, including being able to send a folder link via email to another user to share the folder contents.The app's Upload A File options (Figure B) include the following:
- Upload Photo
- Upload Video
- Upload Any File (from locally on your device)
Upload a File options.One option that needs special mention is the Request Files feature (Figure C). This is an email you can send to another user, requesting them to upload files to a ShareFile account. I've been through a number of cloud storage mobile apps and this is the first time I've encountered this feature. If used correctly, this feature can help teams and users centralize files from local hard drives and other secret stashes to ShareFile. Figure C
Request Files feature.
You can also add users to a ShareFile folder directly from the mobile app, which is convenient and lends itself to more mobile workforce use cases, such as sales teams and field engineers.
Backend management tools
The backend management tools that ShareFile provides on the web are also a strong selling point for this solution. They are among some of cleanest and most well designed backend tools I've yet to encounter while reviewing a cloud storage solution.When I first logged into my ShareFile account through the web, I was asked to change my password. Enterprise customers will definitely like that step. Once you create your new password, you'll need to setup a folder to begin uploading and sharing files. When you begin uploading files, you can either choose files one by one or drag and drop multiple files. ShareFile even lets you send an email alert when the file uploads are complete or when a user downloads a file from the ShareFile folder. Figure D shows a folder ready for file uploads: Figure D
A ShareFile folder ready for file uploads.Security is always a concern with cloud file storage. Fortunately, ShareFile includes the following security features (Figure E):
- Password policies for expiration, complexity, minimum length, and rules
- Configure Device Security with controls for file access, file self-destruct, and blocking jail broken devices
- Custom settings that govern file self-destruct, access to external applications, and restricting modified devices
ShareFile custom settings.
The ShareFile Mobile app with its feature set and backend management tools make it an appealing option for enterprises and mobile workforces who are seeking an Android-friendly version for managing and securely sharing files. The ShareFile solution is focused on file management and features, which I really appreciate. In fact, the ShareFile Mobile app makes the short list of Android apps that could help turn me into an Android user yet.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.