IT challenges and demands in business environments have changed noticeably over the past few years. From the SMBs to global enterprises, networks are becoming more distributed: employees are increasingly mobile, cloud based solutions are replacing local software applications, and tablets are replacing desktops. These changes are driving the demand for different ways to access and manage data. Companies are looking to cloud-based solutions to lower costs and for better access to their data.
Anchor is a software platform that enables online file synchronization, sharing, and backup for businesses that was specifically designed for MSPs. With a focus on security, reliability, and integration, Anchor provides IT professionals with a solution to the universal access, sharing, and file-recovery problems that plague businesses. Simply put, Anchor is the most advanced file-based cloud-synchronization platform for businesses.
As companies start using cloud-based file sync and file sharing solutions, do they understand the risks involved? Who is warning, educating, and protecting them from these risks? As companies make this transition, the Anchor partner has an opportunity to provide their partners with a safe and reliable solution. For our MSP customers, these IT trends also provide an opportunity to sell the Anchor ACS (Anchor Cloud Service) and make a profit.
Here are some of the selling points that Anchor partners talk to their customers about while selling ACS:
- Easily access all of your files from anywhere, including mobile devices
- No more need for FTP, VPN to access company data
- Large email attachments are no longer necessary with point, click, and share
- High-availability to ensure continuous uptime
- Real-time sync technology for seamless backups
- Multiple folder backup (Documents, Desktop, Pictures, etc.)
- Share files, folders with the click of the mouse
- Secure and managed file-sharing for internal and external parties
- Granular admin controls, user-access and security controls
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Brute force protection
- Continuous, real-time backup
- Windows, Mac/OSX desktop clients and IOS/Android Apps
- Comprehensive usage reports
- Ability to save data to any data store (SAN, SCSI, on-site server, remote server, etc.)
- Simplicity: Beautiful web-interface and easy to use client
The SMB Pain Point
The file sync, file sharing, and data collaboration market is quickly becoming as large as the traditional BDR (Backup and Disaster Recovery) market. Why? There are many reasons, but the major motivators are obvious:
- Transition to cloud based applications; and
- Mobile application market and tablets
These trends cause users to want more flexibility and productivity across multiple devices, platforms, and cloud applications. This demand creates the need for automated file sync and backup features, one-click file sharing, and access to files online and offline. In some cases even the company’s file server is being replaced by file syncing solutions, as a better way to manage data. Even with a traditional file server, most businesses want off-site backup services or high-availability services for their data; cloud services readily provide these types of features. As workers go more mobile, the question for these companies becomes: how can employees access and share company data easily across distributed environments? Workers should not have to rely on VPN to access company data or FTP to access large files. However, with increased access to data comes increased security threats. So, how can a business do all of this while ensuring their data is secure and backed up?
Anchor offers a solution:
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Granular user policy and data access controls
- Visibility into file access and ownership
The Competition – Easy Targets
Most options for cloud based file syncing and sharing solutions on the market today generally fall into one of two categories:
- Cheap or free tools that are consumer-focused, lack business management components, with few added security features; or
- Expensive, enterprise focused, and difficult-to-use products.
It is worth mentioning that no product in either of these categories was designed specifically to meet the needs of MSPs or, as an extension of that, the SMB market. It is more common for SMBs to find themselves using solutions from the first category because they generally do not have the budget or resources to manage anything in the second category. The good news is from an IT consultant (MSP) perspective, most solutions that fall into the first category are easy to sell against. These include tools like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Skydrive.
As the first prominent player in the market, Dropbox has the largest market share of all sync-and-share solutions today. SMB customers especially like the free version: it's a no-brainer to use, allows groups to share files with a couple clicks, and offers few configurations. However, this ease of use is offset by the lack of administrative tools and the lack of security. Dropbox was originally designed for consumers looking to easily share family photos; it was not originally designed for business. Understanding that their free version lacked basic capabilities that most business would want, Dropbox developed another option called “Dropbox for Teams”. Dropbox for Teams, which is expensive, does have the added benefit of administrative controls but still lacks important security features.
MSPs should be concerned that their customers are using a cloud based service that they can’t adequately manage for them and make absolutely no money from. Several problems with Dropbox have made headlines recently:
On Tuesday, August 21st 2012 Dropbox users were unable to access their files for up to nine hours.
User information secure?
In July of 2012 Dropbox was subjected to a spam attack that stemmed from a theft of an employee password that gave the thief access to many Dropbox users accounts and passwords. In fact, many user accounts were logged in to and data files were accessed.
The above are just a few of many examples of Dropbox and the checkered history with Security incidents. Another problem that customers should be aware of is that Dropbox hosts all of their customer data on Amazon cloud servers, so the reliability of their service is also in the hands of Amazon. Anchor is hosted by our partners, it is managed by our partners and the quality of the service is controlled by our partners.
Dropbox only backs-up data that is in a designated “Sync Folder,” while Anchor can backup any file or root on a native drive of a device. This is a huge advantage for companies that may have a lot of data they may want to back up but not necessarily sync to local drives on other media.
Using Anchor, the end-user can rest-assured that the wrong data won’t end up in the wrong employee’s hands and that the data will not be hacked. Anchor uses the 256-bit AES encryption method, and comes with layers of policy management controls that the MSP can manage for their clients. For your customers this means peace of mind. The free version of Dropbox comes with no central management of data and zero administrative controls.
Dropbox is a great product and there is a reason there are over 300 million users on the service today. However, this easy-to-use solution is far from ideal for businesses. This is especially true of the free version of Dropbox, which Anchor partners have an easy enough time selling against.
In terms of everyday use, Google Drive offers many of the same features and benefits as Dropbox. It has the same drag-and-drop syncing as Dropbox, and lets you pick which folders inside Drive you want to sync from within the desktop app. As one may expect, Drive’s main advantage is its integration with Google Apps. Drive’s other strength compared to Dropbox is the ability to open many different kinds of files on the web for preview. However, Google Drive has many of the same data security problems that Dropbox has:
“Ultimately, cloud services from Google, Microsoft, and Apple tend to be more proprietary, and make the most sense for users that already work in a Google, Microsoft, or Apple-centric environment. For broader cross-platform integration, the more independent offerings like Dropbox and SugarSync may be the better choice.” For companies using Google Docs, Google Drive formatting may not be an issue, but if you are sharing docs with customers that use MS Office applications they may want to think twice.
Does Google Drive Encrypt Files? No, your files are not encrypted upon upload. You will have to encrypt your own files ahead of time.
Not sure that any bank, medical facilities or any other business with sensitive data would want to subscribe to a file sharing service with those terms. In fact, in some industries it may even be illegal. Anchor is hosted by our partners, who have no access to their customer’s data. These Privacy and Security concerns should be easy to sell against.
General Selling Points
There are many risks for business when using cloud based services like Dropbox, Google Drive and many others. Anchor partners should make sure their customers understand these risks. There are many important points to remember when selling the Anchor platform, here are some of the important ones:
- The Anchor platform uses the 256-bit AES encryption method for data that is sent into the cloud. This not only allows Anchor to meet compliance requirements, it also ensures no access to data to anyone without an encryption key.
- The Anchor platform also provides brute force protection. Users who enter incorrect login information five times in a row are prevented from logging in for 30 minutes.
- Anchor admin access controls allow the IT administrator to create rules and privileges to different users to help ensure a file doesn’t get into the wrong hands.
- Anchor wipe features can also prevent users that are leaving a company from accessing sensitive company files/ information once they leave.
- The data is hosted by the MSP, who can provide them with a service agreement that meets the security, privacy and reliability that the customer requires. Can the competitors offer the same type of service?
For information on Anchor's core value proposition, please reference the Anchor Value Proposition Knowledgebase article.