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Game On! Industry Responds to OneDrive for Business

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's vision of “Cloud for everyone, on every device” no doubt includes Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS).

Earlier this week the company put Box, and almost every other vendor in the space, on notice with a blog post, “Thinking outside of the Box.”  

Its author, John Case, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Office Division, had a fairly simple message for the marketplace:

The era of making isolated, single-solution decisions is rapidly coming to a close. Smart businesses are now choosing partners that have a holistic, comprehensive and connected set of cloud offerings and in doing so, creating a 'data culture' in their organization.”

In other words, Microsoft users should look to OneDrive for Business as the way to go for EFSS.

When you take into account that 670 million users use Microsoft Office and Office 365, what Microsoft’s message boils down to is pretty simple: If you’re a point EFSS solution in our world, you’re redundant.

Granted, this might be a bit harsh. Especially if the new, more open, Microsoft that is supposed to play nicely with everyone walks its talk. But Aaron Levie, CEO of Box, didn't see that ray of light in the OneDrive announcement:

By keeping Office 365 users on the closed OneDrive 'island,' Microsoft is stranding hundreds of millions of users and customers that have chosen Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and others. And by releasing Office on the iPad without the ability to view or edit documents from any cloud service other than their own, they’re making it harder — not easier — for users to get the most out of their software.”

What Microsoft is likely banking on, however, is the large (and still growing) number of business users who live, create and collaborate on content using Office products, making OneDrive the path of least resistance for them.

And Microsoft is lowering the level of resistance to as close to zero as it can: It’s increasing OneDrive for Business storage from 25GB to 1TB per user, it’s giving all Office 365 ProPlus customers 1TB of OneDrive for Business storage per user as part of their Office 365 ProPlus subscription, and it’s offering to help organizations migrate data from their existing solutions to OneDrive for Business.

Functions, Not Storage, Win the Enterprise

It’s not a bad strategy, according to 451 Research analyst Alan Pelz-Sharpe, “Microsoft’s differentiator is it’s bundling with Office 365.”

And Microsoft is hoping that by giving away storage it will lure users to check out and sign on to their service.
But it’s not much of a carrot, said Jeetu Patel, general Mmanager of EMC Syncplicity.

Giving effectively unlimited cloud storage in the enterprise market is not news. Serious enterprise sync and share solutions have offered end users more cloud storage than they could ever use for quite some time (including Syncplicity with our Enterprise Edition). What's important is not how much storage an end user gets, but how easy is it for them to use that storage and gain productivity, while maintaining a high level of security.”

Ted Schadler, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, certainly agreed with the first part of Patel’s sentiment, “Free storage is not a market maker,” he said, adding that it might help close a deal, here and there, everything else being equal.

What the enterprise sync and share market really cares about is features, said Schadler. “The arms race is for functionality,” he explained.

And security and control are, no doubt, high on the list — that’s where larger vendors like EMC Syncplicity and smaller vendors like Accellion and Egnyte excel. They’re offering on premises and private cloud capabilities that others like Dropbox and Box don’t, and that Microsoft OneDrive for Business isn’t shedding a spotlight on if it does.

"For real enterprise adoption, a strategy where cloud storage is blended seamlessly with on-prem storage will be key for growth and success,” said Vineet Jain, CEO of Egnyte. He added that customers recognize the value that Egnyte’s hybrid approach brings to their business: “control” — the ability to decide where to store which kind of data, in the cloud or on premises.

“Security and control is what matters most to the enterprise, while not sacrificing on end user ease of use,” he said.

Approaching the Cloud from a Different Angle

Accellion separates itself from the pack by taking an altogether different approach.

“Rather than signing up for cloud storage wars with Microsoft, Box and Dropbox, we’re focused on giving organizations the ability to run their own private cloud file sync and share to meet the increasing concerns of data security and compliance,” said Paula Skokowski, CMO of Accellion.

“It’s less about the size of the cloud you’re using, and more about the type of cloud. For corporations, it’s more important to have a cloud that’s not being monitored by the NSA," she added.

There’s no doubt that Patel would agree with the aforementioned. EMC Syncplicity offers policy-driven hybrid storage (cloud and on premises) to meet enterprise requirements for security and storage compliance.


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