What is Work Folders?
Work Folders is a service that is part of the File and Storage Services role in Windows 2012 R2 OS. Work Folders, simply put, enables organizations of all sizes to provide a file sync platform, like OneDrive or DropBox, for corporate documents and files. It allows IT organizations to provide a centralized method for users to store files, and allow those users to securely sync and store files across multiple devices.
How Does It Compare With Other File Sync Offerings?
In today’s cloud-centric environment, there are multiple offerings for synchronization services – OneDrive, DropBox, iDrive, Google Drive, just to name a few. While these are great for storing consumer and private data, they are the bane of every information security professional’s lives. The data here is stored off-premise, in another organizations systems, and totally outside the control of IT, and, as usual, security relies on the user.
With Work Folders, a user’s personal data is centrally synchronized and stored on-premise in your file server infrastructure. Files are synchronized across HTTPS secured connections, and are encrypted at rest on the device. If the user leaves the organization, they will lose access to the content stored on the device. In addition, you can optionally configure the end-device to enforce basic security, namely, to lock the screen and require a password or PIN on resume.
As mentioned, and contrasted with the other cloud based offerings, Work Folders is designed for selective synchronization of user’s personal data, similar to a home drive. It works much the same way, with the difference being the ability to include non-domain joined devices in the process. One of the key differences with Work Folders is that there is no option for group collaboration and sharing services.
What Do I Need?
The requirements for Work Folders are fairly simple.
- Work Folders is part of the Windows Server 2012 R2 OS. You will need file server(s) based on the 2012 R2 platform. The file servers can be hosted on-premise, or in a hosted IaaS cloud, like Azure.
- Work Folders is only supported on a local, NTFS formatted volume.
- Server certificate for the SSL connections.
- Public DNS name (if work folders are available publicly).
- AD Federation Services infrastructure for remote user pre-authentication
How Does Work Folders Benefit The End-User?
Simply put, users are needing and expecting their work documents and files available anywhere, and on any device. In this age of ubiquitous cloud computing, coupled with freely available storage services, more and more users are opting to leverage these services, with or without IT’s approval. With providing this service for users, you are making it simpler for them to sync their work across devices, while still allowing for a level of control of the information.
Not only are documents available, they will be synchronized back to the corporate servers automatically, and available on their work computers