A Secure Enterprise Cloud Sharing Solution for Electrical Construction Companies

The ability to access data when and where it’s needed is a game-changer for organizations. Gone are the days where departments had to truck files to centralized locations for storage. With cloud and mobile technology becoming more coveted, deploying a secure and efficient enterprise file sync and share solution is crucial.

Although studies show that the construction industries are lax in their adoption of cloud computing, the overarching importance of cloud technology is undeniable. 

This article focuses on how Triofox can be used as an ad hoc file-sharing solution for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) companies.

Problem Definition: Electrical Company Case Study

Outlined below is an overview of the operational workflow of a medium-sized electrical construction company:

  • Company A is an Electrical construction company with two branches in the US and almost 300 employees in total.
  • They have an on-premise file server with about 4TB of data, which is replicated in the two offices using VMware.
  • They also have a considerable number of field engineers and workers as they do solar and electrical installations for Oil and Gas corporations.
  • Field/Remote workers previously relied on VPN to connect back to the on-premise file server to access files and Dropbox to share files easily.

The following section highlights the performance issues they encountered with the initial connectivity and file sharing solution and how Triofox addresses them.

Pain Points and Triofox Solution To Them

Research has found that construction companies have difficulty with communication and coordination, which can cause delays, higher costs, and poor ROI. Our case study also reflects how changes in the work environment due to innovative circumvention influenced by the COVID-19 global lockdown heightens the difficulties.

The pain points include:

  1. Employee frustration caused by VPN Performance issues.

Most of the employees worked from the offices in the past, so accessing on-premise file servers was not an issue. However, with the rise in remote working, hundreds of concurrent VPN tunnel connections on a firewall slows down the network, leading to multiple dropped connections and disgruntled employees who constantly have to reconnect with the system.

  1. Lack of granular control of permissions

Most consumer cloud storage platforms make it difficult for IT administrators to follow important security procedures. For instance, even though they use Office 365, they can’t utilize OneDrive/Sharepoint because, in OneDrive, you can’t set different sharing permissions for subfolders as OneDrive folder sync breaks the permission. For their contractors who work with many project folders, permissions are challenging to manage because permissions can’t be set up for each subfolder of a project folder.

Also, IT administrators can’t control which files users are syncing and who has access to shared files when using Dropbox.

  1. Incompatibility with estimation/database application

They use AccuBid Enterprise, a vital estimating software for their business, as it helps contractors create estimates quickly and accurately. However, this software does not integrate well with Dropbox file sync.

An ideal solution for them would be one which:

  • Allows their employees to access the company’s file server both from remote locations and within the company’s network.
  • Offers a secure file sharing alternative to collaborate internally with their contractors and externally with their business partners.

This breakdown makes Triofox an ideal solution.

Triofox file server access solution extends the functionality of local file servers, enabling cloud collaborative features while maintaining crucial attributes of on-premise servers such as data control and security.

It addresses all their pain points and delivers efficiently as a remote file-server access alternative to VPN and a secure file-sharing alternative to Dropbox/OneDrive. Here’s how.

  1. Eliminates VPN issues with its mapped drive approach

A mapped drive serves as both a physical and logical representation of a network that employees easily understand. With this, remote working employees can easily and securely access corporate files from anywhere. Hence, employees can quickly and efficiently accomplish common tasks when using file services in their daily tasks.

  1. Provides a granular level of control over folder structures

It’s important to have a centralized data repository. Doing so allows for easy data management and allows people in different departments to share information quickly.

Unlike other cloud solutions that allow no IT control or visibility, Triofox provides centralized access for IT managers.

  1. Allows For Seamless Collaboration

Collaboration tools play an essential role in facilitating efficient communication as virtual collaboration can be more complicated for contractors and engineering teams that work with real-time data. Field contractors have to report to decision-makers who aren’t directly exposed to on-field intelligence. It’s important to make sure the right information gets to the right person at the right time, as timely communication aids decision-making. This ensures that projects are managed properly and issues are resolved before they become problems during on-site execution.

With Triofox, large media files can be shared as secure web links without copying them to a different service to obtain the shareable link, preventing bandwidth drain, data leaks, and redundancy. Files can also be shared with multiple people without re-uploading and sharing updated links (because they use Office 365, files and folders can be shared as links instead of attachments via Outlook).

  1. Enable Offline Access

For on-field access with limited to no internet connection, the contractors can enable offline access to files they need and set up automatic synchronization of changes when internet connectivity is restored.

  1. Seamless Integration

It integrates with the existing Active Directory and retains NTFS permissions on files and folders. This way, existing users still have access to network shares. Through its client agents, users can access and share files via web browsers and mobile devices.

Users don’t have to worry about ad hoc software integration problems.

  1. Efficient Collaboration

Access to up-to-date project data enables construction workers to participate more effectively and the project team to be better organized. Files are automatically locked when in use to prevent overwriting. This makes it possible to collaborate on a project without worrying that other team members will undo or overwrite each other’s changes. Also, Triofox’s version control and file tracking feature ensures that each update is saved and traceable.

Conclusion Enterprises can be assured that sensitive data never leaves the file server while granting employees the flexibility to work from remote locations with or without an internet connection and on any device.

Remote Working Technology: How To Avoid VPN Issues and Secure Network Assets

There is no doubt that remote working offers numerous benefits regarding efficiency, productivity, and cost-effectiveness. But to reap these benefits, the right technology must be in place to support remote working. However, data sharing is the foundation that makes remote working possible for companies, with employee’s ability to work remotely being heavily reliant on how quickly and efficiently vital data and files can be accessed by those in need of such data.

One major challenge faced by businesses with employees working remotely is accessing corporate files securely. Hence, the goal is to secure network assets while ensuring employees working remotely have the ease of access as someone working in the office.

This blog explores the most common connection challenges faced by remote users and the best way to solve these issues.

VPN Limitations for Remote Working

Following the global lockdown declaration, it is understandable that most companies opted for Virtual Private Networks, the seemingly fastest connection route to keep their businesses afloat.

Many have since realized the problem with that choice. Listed below are the significant limitations of VPNs:

  1. Offline Editing Capability

With companies hiring cross-continent while offering the work from home option, their employees must have offline editing options. The necessity is even more pronounced for digital nomads or employees working on the go, as they are likely to suffer internet inconsistencies.

Because VPNs require an active/ dedicated connection, when remote employees can’t access the files they need to work on in a timely fashion, it leads to a massive drop in productivity.

  1. Leverage Content Delivery Network (CDN)

VPN traversing over a long distance is slow and fails to leverage CDN benefits such as improved uptime, reduced bandwidth, and SSL encryption, all available for HTTP-based protocols.

  1. Integrate With Zero Trust Security Model

Businesses widely adopt the zero-trust approach to secure valuable network assets, particularly given the rise in remote working. Meanwhile, VPNs by their nature weren’t intended for the remote workforce as it requires perimeter access/ server proximity to work effectively.

Also, VPNs are the polar opposite of the zero trust model. Zero trust implementation is mostly HTTPS-based as a gateway, intercepting HTTPS communications and prompting authentication using advanced authentication methods. VPNs grant unrestricted access to the network, expanding attack surface areas.

  1. Employee’s Hack Leads to Data Sprawl

Another challenge is data sprawl, whereby a user copies important files locally to maintain offline access. Not only does this lead to data inconsistencies, but it also compromises data security.

It is essential to keep data consistent even when offline, especially when working in teams. Ideally, all your data would be synced up when connected to the Internet, so changes are updated on the server and reside securely in the cloud.

  1. Dampens Remote Work Experience

Employee experience in remote working is crucial. As shown in Riverbed’s Future Of Work global survey, VPN logins and disconnection issues were cited as especially problematic. The disconnection from the corporate network and slow file downloads was two of the most significant problems faced by remote working respondents.

If your remote users are constantly being disconnected from the enterprise every time they try to access file shares over the Internet, they could get irritated or frustrated.

Securing the network infrastructure to support flexible working styles is necessary for businesses that are yet to implement a remote working policy. Hence, while a VPN seems like a secure way to connect multiple remote computers to the network, it is not a sustainable option.

Why Any Cloud Solution Just Won’t Cut It

With cloud computing, data stored in one place can be accessed by anyone regardless of where they are physically located. It also offers scalability, efficiency, and profitability benefits. For these reasons, migrating to the cloud is often an attractive option.

For example, migrating to cloud collaborative platforms SharePoint can be a desirable option. But such migration might not be ideal for businesses with specific data infrastructure, especially those built up over several years and spread across multiple file shares, machines, and locations. The uncertainty of the financial implication makes it cost-prohibitive for SMBs with large data sets.

How Triofox Addresses VPN and Cloud Migration Issues

Triofox is designed to give users remote access to existing file shares. It is a great cloud-enabled file sharing and syncing platform that enables secure access across all devices.

This solution is perfect for businesses that:

  • Have large data sets spread across multiple servers.
  • Need to enhance the remote working experience for their staff.
  • Operate in AEC verticals with remote employees.
  • Require a long-term and sustainable secure file and collaboration solution.

Below are some more benefits of Triofox:

Cross-Site Collaboration

When working with a team, file locking is essential for preventing versions from being accidentally overwritten or deleted. Most cloud services don’t support CAD files, but with Triofox’s mapped drive, users can access the file locking and version control features to keep track of the changes.

When working offline, files stored in the local cache are encrypted and can automatically be synchronized when the internet connection is restored.

Support for Large Files and Private File Shares

Triofox affords users the option to transfer large files as secure web links. It takes away the redundancy of copying files to an external storage service to collaborate with partners or clients. It can also integrate with Outlook to automatically convert file attachments to links, secure files with data-at-rest encryption, and transfer over SSL.

Always-On, HTTPS-Based Drive Mapping

Users no longer have to worry about being suddenly disconnected from the network, as Triofox’s mapped drive is a constant. It is simple enough that authorized users can connect to the network at any time without help or network interference.

Centralized Control Across Multiple Sites

Triofox syncs data to a global namespace. It provides desktop agents and mobile applications for a complete end-to-end access solution and simplifies the user experience. It maintains data consistency with versioning and integrates directly with Microsoft Active Directory for user and permission management.

Other advantages over VPN include:

● Eliminate network downtime and provide remote access to enterprise file shares from anywhere without a VPN.
● Reduce network spread and reduce corporate risk. Eliminate costly workarounds commonly used by remote users to access their company file server.
● Triofox provides an efficient, discreet, and cost-effective way for your remote workers to work from any location, even off-grid, by offering offline access to cached file server shares.
● Centralizes data that is spread across multiple locations and devices and can serve as a zero trust solution for remote file server access.
● Triofox combines the advantages of DFS, VPN, and cloud storage to provide a private cloud structure, offering better control over cost and security.

To get started on Triofox, sign up for a free trial or schedule a demo.

Access File Servers Without a VPN

Many companies struggled to comply with government regulations and stay at home orders that aimed to keep staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. For some, it was more complex than simply setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and allowing staff to work from home.

Governments around the world had to act quickly to slow the spread of the virus, but the best way to protect populations was to enforce the necessary social distancing. The boost this gave to remote work technologies hasn’t gone unnoticed. Stock prices for companies who were perfectly poised to provide remote work tech skyrocketed.

Similarly, employees who had to perform duties from home found that productivity stayed the same or even increased. While work from home has been on an upward trend over the last ten years, since the start of 2020, it is now part of good business practice for your organization to establish an effective and secure remote access solution. If your company operates in an area or territory where VPNs are illegal (like the United Arab Emirates), you can still implement remote work and it may even be a better solution than a traditional VPN.

Why are VPNs Illegal in the UAE?

In July last year, the UAE’s President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan published a royal edict banning the use of VPNs. In an attempt to combat cybercrimes, the law states that anyone using a fraudulent computer network protocol address (or IP address) to commit a crime or just to prevent discovery will face imprisonment and have to pay a hefty fine.

The wording of the law may leave some VPN providers guessing if there are any loopholes, as the two major telecom companies (Etisalat and Du) does provide the service legally. Seeing as the majority of residents living and working in the UAE are foreigners, the law creates an inconvenience for individuals and companies alike.

The UAE isn’t the only territory that banned VPNs. Currently, the following countries have laws prohibiting or limiting the use of these networks:

  • Russia, Belarus, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Iraq, and Turkey have implemented complete VPN bans
  • UAE, Uganda, and China have tightly regulated or partially blocked VPNs

For companies operating in these territories, there’s no upside to not complying with the regulations. In the UAE, some VPNs may still work but if you’re operating your business and relying on remote work, it’s definitely not worth the risk. Besides, VPNs are no longer the most efficient remote work tech available today.

What are the Drawbacks of VPNs?

VPNs are actually an outdated technology. It’s been around for ages and has received little to no updates except slight improvements with the encryption used by these connections. Other drawbacks include slowing down your internet connection, becoming costly at scale, and requiring excessive admin effort to maintain.

Some services may also block VPNs and prevent access, making the effectiveness of this solution uncertain. The worst providers have little scruples and could be selling your browsing and internet habits to a third party. Although most corporations won’t use a VPN service that has a bad reputation, if you don’t know what’s going on in your network, it could put your organization at risk.

A final drawback of VPNs is that it grants complete access to the company’s internal networks that could see personal devices infect the IT system with malware or viruses. With newer remote work technologies available, the effort, risk, and uncertainty regarding VPNs should make it a final resort instead of a preferred solution.

How Does a VPN Work?

VPNs allow you to access resources on a network by transferring your connection via an encrypted channel (also called a tunnel or pipe). The destination will see your address as originating from within the network and as such, allow you to access files, services, or other infrastructure via the VPN’s server.

Any request from your device will go to the VPN server before it re-routes you to the required network resources, usually encrypting the request between the origin and destination. It’s these additional routing paths required between you and the destination that will influence your internet speeds, leading to inefficient connections.

Are There Viable VPN Alternatives Available?

You don’t have to move your company servers to a cloud service to enable remote access. With Triofox, it’s still possible to provide secure access to your file servers while your staff works from home. You can implement remote work that’s compliant with the applicable laws and without having to expose your servers to the internet.

Benefits of Triofox for Remote Access to On-Premises File Servers

To provide companies with secure, efficient, and compliant remote access, Triofox comes with a host of features. Triofox is an easy-to-use, encrypted solution that outperforms VPN in most metrics. Here are some of the primary benefits you get from using Triofox.

Assures Safe and Secure Remote Access to File Servers

Instead of implementing cloud storage that will increase data sprawl in your organization, you can retain your existing file server deployment while enabling secure remote access. Triofox allows you to connect directly to your on-premises file servers and network drives without having to implement any additional solutions or elevated security controls.

Reduces Need to Retrain Users

Some VPNs are complex to operate and maintain, requiring additional training for your users and administrators. Troubleshooting issues with a VPN is complex and time-consuming. With simplified and encrypted access to your company servers, you won’t need to spend additional time and resources on educating your employees on the safe use of a VPN.

Triofox integrates with your existing active directory and NTFS permissions, eliminating the need to administer multiple access control solutions. For employees, it’s easy to use and works just like any mapped network drive or file explorer.

Works Like Cloud Storage Using Your Own Servers

Users can access all their work files as the sharing and security settings extend to remote locations without requiring a reconfiguration of your IT systems. Triofox provides you with Office365 integration to help you get back to work quickly. You also get support for offline folders to keep staff productive even when internet connections aren’t available. To keep everyone on the same page, you have on-demand synchronization and parallel data transfer for large files.

Comes with Loads of Security Features

Endpoint and connection encryption keeps all communications secure, while staff will only have access to the files and folders you already permitted them to use. Additional security features include two-factor authentication (2FA) with support for both Google Authenticator and Amazon MFA or DUO.

Keeps Staff Productive from Anywhere

Once workers aren’t sharing a workspace, it’s a challenge to keep them informed about progress and prevent mismatched data. Triofox helps you by providing version control, file locking, and conflict detection. Alerts and change notifications help prevent any mistakes from creeping into your workflows and ensures all employees know what another is doing while working remotely.

Consider Triofox as Your Remote Access Solution

Triofox brings new efficiencies to workforces who are required to work remotely. With VPNs, the admin effort is massive while access is slow or in some cases, prohibited. As Triofox extends your file servers’ NTFS permissions and integrates with your active directory, it enables collaboration from any remote location. You can reduce the costs associated with VPN solutions, minimize your data sprawl, boost your remote work productivity, and enforce all data security just like within your corporate network.

Simplify your file server management and ensure compliance with Triofox even when moving to a mobile workforce. To see how it works, sign up for a free trial today.

Transform Collaboration with Triofox Secure File Sharing

Files have always proven to be a vector for the spread of malware. According to Verizon’s yearly Data Breach Investigations Report, 92 percent of all malware spread via email attachments. That makes providing access to a secure file sharing tool critical for your data security and your employees’ productivity.

However, secure file sharing does more than keep your network safe. It’s also a powerful tool for fostering a culture of collaboration within your organization. Support your workers’ ability to collaborate with an ecosystem that eliminates the physical limitations of the office and delivers the files – and sharing capabilities – required.

Get started with a free trial now

Request a demo

Great Minds Do More Than Think Alike

The link between employee collaboration and a company’s reputation for innovation is well-studied. Research suggests that collaboration and innovation are directly – and positively – linked. In PwC’s Innovation Benchmark study, executives cite innovation and the willingness to collaborate as integral to a company’s success in the 21st century.

However, creating a culture of collaboration relies on more than simply promoting teamwork as a value. According to some experts, a collaborative business environment is a direct result of the rise of digital technology, widely called the fourth industrial  revolution, or Industry 4.0. In other words, this culture shift is driven by the introduction of technologies in the workplace that unlock new ways to connect and create.

Why Secure File Sharing Matters

As more and more business operations occur digitally, the ability to share files easily and securely matters more. Choose secure file sharing because:

  • Version control matters: Banish confusing email attachments and multiple copies that all seem to have different updates.
  • Accidental file sharing constitutes a breach: Some 60 percent of office workers have accidentally sent a file to the wrong person.
  • Organization breeds efficiency: Stay efficient and productive by making secure file sharing an extension of your existing file servers – not a separate service.

Triofox Enables Secure File Sharing by Enhancing Collaboration

Secure file sharing has always represented a requirement for data security. However, when leveraged correctly, it does more than keep your sensitive information safe. Triofox supports secure file sharing to enhance collaboration across your organization. Enjoy:

Integrations to Support Productivity

Triofox integrates seamlessly with other Windows resources to enhance the functionality of your file servers. Embrace easy, efficient, and secure file sharing with an Outlook integration that lets you create expiration dates or other access controls. Or, integrate with Office 365 to allow your workers to co-edit, co-author, and securely share files within the program.

Simplified Sharing Experience

Make large file transfers easy with web links directly to shared files and folders. You can even empower your employees to securely share files with users who aren’t in the Active Directory thanks to Triofox’s special file locking and version control capabilities.

Powerful, Streamlined Permissions

No matter how extensive the collaboration becomes, you’ll maintain visibility with extensive auditing and reporting tools. Likewise, maintain control with your file server’s native NTFS permissions, including the ability to modify rules defining users permitted to share files or access specific links.

Improve Your File Server Capabilities with Triofox

Whether transmitting files to colleagues or clients, the secure file sharing features within Triofox keep your operations efficient and safe. Embrace collaboration and drive innovation by giving your employees the tools they need to connect, create, and succeed.

Triofox provides secure remote access and file-sharing capabilities for your Windows file server. Get started with a free trial now.