Why do we still burn after reading?


16 Jun 2009

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While we talk incessantly about the myriad benefits of cloud computing, the truth is that many companies are still swapping data with clients by burning to CDs and having them couriered across, or emailing documents back and forth. This is not only time-wasting and difficult to track, but also not ideal security-wise, according to Gavin Guinane, CEO of Ftopia.

Ftopia is an Irish company with a new service for online storage, sharing and file management aimed at SMEs and freelancers. It works on the premise that users shouldn’t have to download any software to begin sharing and managing data in the cloud, but rather can do all this through a web application.

However, many small businesses and sole traders will make do with free online services such as Google Docs or Office Online in order to share and collaborate on documents and other files. What’s wrong with this?

Nothing is for free, Guinane said, and some features on Office Online, for example, need contemporary Microsoft Office or Windows versions, whereas Ftopia is designed to be cross platform and client agnostic.

“Do you want to share documents with business partners using a service that displays targeted, contextual ads? This isn’t a very professional image to offer to your customers and partners.

“What about security or compliance with EU regulations? Or integration with your operating system or access through your mobile devices?

“There are some good free services such as Google Docs that fit specific needs, but there are also free services offered by companies whose sole strategy is to win as many ‘customers’ as possible before being acquired by Google and then risk going out of business,” Guinane explained.

When it comes to solving file-sharing needs for professional purposes, dedicated software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions deliver the value required by SMEs, for an insignificant cost, according to Guinane.

Many companies still tend to use email, if not for cost-saving purposes, then for ease of use. However, as Guinane pointed out, there are inherent security risks involved in this kind of practice.

“The success of online file-sharing solutions arises from the fact that email has been used to solve needs that it can’t address properly.

“Email is good to send a document to a person or a group on a once-off basis, but if several people need to work on multiple documents, emailing them quickly becomes a nightmare.

“Nobody’s sure that he/she works with the right version, or that he/she sent the right version. Add to that the security issue – email is the worst solution in terms of security,” he explained.

Ftopia is currently a web version only, but will soon be available as an application for the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android devices. 

By Marie Boran

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