News / February, 2016

Indiana moves file sharing system to hybrid cloud

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The Indiana Office of Technology has adopted an enterprise file sharing system to help agency users collaborate and to reduce the security vulnerabilities associated with shadow IT.

The IOT, which provides enterprise  IT services to the state’s 100 agencies, opted for Syncplicity, a file synchronization and sharing service, to simplify and secure the way employees share and access information.

Prior to Syncplicity, state workers were using unsanctioned cloud applications like Dropbox and Box to share files, some of which contained sensitive information. IOT needed an  easy-to-use, cloud storage solution that could house data in a secure, collaborative and cost-efficient environment, according to Jason Reid, deputy assistant IT director with IOT.  

Syncplicity offers a hybrid cloud data storage model in which clients can use the company’s storage capability, a private on-premise storage solution or a combination of the two.

Indiana chose to keep its data on site. “We utilize this because it’s enterprise level, and we can have a lot more control over it -- not to mention the fact that all of the information resides behind our firewall,” Reid explained.

According to Reid, there are about 30,000 desktops or laptops throughout Indiana’s government environment, and his office is responsible for the security and desktop infrastructure for those machines. IOT packages the Syncplicity client for user groups and pushes it through its deployment system to users’ computers. Syncplicity makes this easier with its granular policy model.

“You can determine [policies] by user, by group, by folder or by geolocation, where that end data is being stored,” said Syncplicity’s Philip Peterson, vice president of sales. “When the data is all on-premise you have [complete control] over that data.”

Indiana’s users can access Syncplicity clients on Mac and PC desktops, through an HTML5 browser and on mobile devices; all modes of access can be controlled by IOT. Based on users’ permissions, staff can access and interact with data from “any mobile device, any desktop or web interface,” Peterson said. For Indiana, securely sharing information to different groups instantaneously was extremely important.

According to Peterson, because Syncplicity integrates with mobile device management solutions, IOT has full control of the mobile device and can remote wipe, authenticate or disable certain licenses if needed . The app also fully integrates with Microsoft Office 365 so users can work with like Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files.

Syncplicity is frequently used to share images. Reid said this is particularly helpful for the Department of Natural Resources’ remote sites and when users cannot connect to the state’s backbone network. “They can share those files with [the remote sites] and pass them back and forth [across the Syncplicity network]. They don’t have to worry about file size limitations if they have to pass something large,” Reid said.

Adopting this technology allowed IOT to retire traditional data transfer methods like shared drives and portable storage devices and File Transfer Protocol servers -- some of which required expensive upkeep and maintenance, and all of which had a higher risk for data loss or breach.

When a department fully adopts Syncplicity, IOT is able to consolidate and deactivate its FTP servers. “There were quite a few of them and a lot of old information so lots of servers have been taken down,” Reid said.

So far, IOT has deployed nearly 1,000 Syncplicity licenses, and since initial rollout, the office has increased the number of accounts by 50 percent. “Once [state employees] find out about it they tend to utilize it,” Reid said.

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