Hi Folks –
A few months back I wrote a blog article on Work Folders, one of the new “hero” features in Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Storage Server 2012 R2. In this post, I’ll share the perspective of Fabian Uhse, a Program Manager for Work Folders at Microsoft.
Q: Why did Microsoft develop Work Folders? What customer pains did you set out to solve?
Put simply, we set out to make it easier for people to access their files. When we looked at all the ways that people access data on a file server, we realized that more and more people are transitioning to a sync-based approach, which offers benefits such as offline access. We already had a sync-based approach for accessing data on SharePoint Server, and wanted to provide modern, sync-based access to file server data as well.
Q: What exactly is Work Folders, and how does the feature work?
Work Folders gives users access to files on a company file server while allowing organizations to maintain control over that data. Here’s an overview:
Q: How does Work Folders compare to other Microsoft sync technologies?
Here’s how I suggest people look at the different sync options we provide:
Q: How does Work Folders work with Offline Files? Why would someone use both?
We don’t recommend deploying Work Folders and Offline Files at the same time on the same device because it presents a user education problem and potential for lost work. Here’s why:
That said, Work Folders and Offline Files can work together in parallel to share the same files—they’re just two different sharing mechanisms, with different protocols. So if you’re looking to provide data access for devices that can’t take advantage of Work Folders, you can grant them access via SMB—so that those devices can continue to use Offline Files.
Q: Which platforms and/or devices does the Work Folders client support?
Support for Work Folders is an integrated component of Windows 8.1, including Windows RT. We’re currently working on releasing a download for Windows 7, which will bring this functionality to the large number of devices still running Windows 7 in existing environments. Stay tuned for more information on client platform support as this work continues.
Q: What opportunity does Work Folders present for Microsoft partners who help companies deploy Windows Server 2012 R2?
Work Folders presents an excellent opportunity for Microsoft partners to promote the adoption and use of Windows Server 2012 R2. Here’s why:
Q: How large is the opportunity for adoption of Work Folders?
It’s important that Microsoft—and its partners—do not underestimate just how many organizations continue to rely on file servers for information-worker files:
Q: What’s involved in deploying Work Folders? Is it more complex with some customers than with others?
There are a few steps involved in deploying Work Folders; none of them are highly difficult and most organizations already have the necessary infrastructure. Here’s what I recommend:
We have a great deployment guide that helps setting up the evaluation and gives further introduction into how to set this up for a production environment. Some organizations’ IT environments may be a little more complex than others and thus require a bit more planning; however, we have great documentation and a vast partner and consulting network to help even those companies with complex IT infrastructures quickly and efficiently deploy an optimal Work Folders solution.
Closing Thoughts and Additional Resources
My thanks to Fabian for taking the time to share his perspective on Work Folders. If you’d like to learn more about this cool new feature, here are some additional resources:
Cheers, Scott M. Johnson Senior Program Manager Windows Storage Server @supersquatchy
What about Android or IOS client?
Could you please give us just some kind of timeframe for Windows 7 client and iOS support?It is hard to sell the technology to customers, when there is no statement from MS at all, when they can expect iOS and Windows 7 support.
Will Work Folders be available for Windows 8 Clients too? Crucial point for planning an Integration in a large scale environment which isn't completely on 8.1 yet.