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Collaboration: file sharing made secure

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The other critical aspect of Intralinks' collaboration solution is its ability to move the work along. "You share a document because something needs to happen, such as having a discussion about it or reviewing it," Lees says. "Work streams allow users to put the work in context and take appropriate action."

Collaboration among researchers

The Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFIN) carries out sophisticated research on neural circuits and brain function. Its studies are helping to reveal the causes of brain-related diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, autism and epilepsy, which may one day lead to treatments. Researchers at MPFIN generate an enormous amount of data through the use of large-scale, high-resolution microscopic techniques. For example, recent experiments involving construction of a 3-D model of the brain have generated files in excess of 150 TB.

The data is also very sensitive, and MPFIN therefore needed a platform that would allow for local storage with the benefits a traditional cloud would offer. "Many of the options we looked at had limits on file size, and were solely sync-based" says Oleg Zhovnir, Web developer at MPFIN. "We needed an enterprise-level, on-premises private file sharing solution, like our own private Dropbox."

Zhovnir found a product called FileCloud, developed by CodeLathe, which had evolved from a personal cloud software product designed for individual users. The enterprise version had the controls that provided the security the institute needed. "The flexibility in user/group permissions and access control is a great feature of the product," Zhovnir says. FileCloud also provides integration with e-mail clients so that links can be generated through Outlook.

Prior to implementing FileCloud, sharing large amounts of data with external collaborators was difficult, requiring the IT group to spend time setting up custom solutions for each request. Now, the institute is able to provide easy access to the large files it needs to allow its researchers to collaborate. "FileCloud meets our primary objective of having an enterprise-level private cloud, which is secure, flexible and scalable with our growing environment, all while being relatively inexpensive," Zhovnir says.

Although many customers opt to keep all the data on their servers, FileCloud allows part or all of the data to be stored in a third-party cloud such as Amazon. "Users can manage all the data through a common interface," says Anis Abdul, CTO at CodeLathe, "no matter where it is residing. " In addition, it is cross-platform, running on Windows, Linux, iOS and other operating systems.

The tracking feature provides a full audit trail as to who is downloading and uploading, and on what devices the information is being used. Specific devices can be blocked if, for example, the organization does not want to allow mobile access. Abdul says, "The cost of our product is low compared to the public cloud, because we are providing just the software, and not the storage."

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