That’s what you’ll find in 451 Research’s latest survey on the Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) market.

“The research presented in this and subsequent reports will be divisive -- welcomed and indeed lauded by some, but very uncomfortable reading for others,” writes analyst Alan Pelz-Sharpe, author of the study. 

Are You Paying Attention IT?

We should note that analysts (like Gartner, Forrester, Ovum and 451 Research) look at markets through various lenses in their studies, surveys and reports. In this case, 451 Research decided to focus on finding out “what is really happening in this (EFSS) often confusing and turbulent sector.” 

The conclusions come from discussions with both buyers and sellers of EFSS solutions (completed in April and October of 2014) and are corroborated by 451 Research’s ChangeWave Research, which looks at corporate software spending as reported by 1,020 survey respondents involved in purchasing software for their companies.

Though Pelz-Sharpe writes that EFSS solutions are overhyped and underplayed at present, he adds that they have “moved from a consumer-grade novelty” to a technology that has the enterprise’s attention and will have long term viability.

In other words, enterprise IT ought to pay attention because it’s likely that EFSS solutions will become as ubiquitous as Search.

In just six months, the number of enterprises using EFSS grew by 3 percent. Purchases were made mostly on a departmental level rather than on an enterprise-wide basis. 451 Research expects that another 4 percent of businesses will adopt EFSS in the next six months.

What’s surprising, and perhaps even unsettling, is that 61 percent of companies said that they have no plans to use EFSS services at all.

Can you say shadow IT?

Shifting Landscape

And while some may be (451 Research wasn’t) to learn that Dropbox leads EFSS adoption (the “E” means at work, with the company footing the bill, and not in the consumer space) other vendors like Microsoft, Amazon, EMC Syncplicity and Citrix ShareFile are gaining foothold as are providers like Oracle and which include EFSS services as part of larger packages.

The most widely used, paid EFSS vendors include Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, Box and Citrix ShareFile in that order.

Image from 451 survey data identifies EFSS winners, losers and big changes

It’s worth noting too that revenue winners and size of footprint winners don’t necessarily align. EMC Syncplicity, for example, has revenues that are disproportionate (on the upside) to its actual footprint.

Sharpe-Pelz writes that the biggest surprise in the survey reveals a shift in deployment from public clouds to private and hybrid -- a surprising 22 percent chose the latter option since the last survey.

Snowden has left his mark on the enterprise.

Finally, IT seems to be deaf, dumb and blind (our words, not Pelz-Sharpe’s) to the extent to which free, consumer file sharing solutions are being used at work. According to the report, in some cases as many as 30 different file sync and share solutions are being used in a single company.

Needless to say, there’s plenty of opportunity for Enterprise IT to bring EFSS systems on board and for the vendors who provide them.