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Egnyte CEO Vineet Jain makes no apologies. He handpicked today to reveal that his company is raising the stakes in Enterprise Sync and Share (EFSS), just a few days before Box’s IPO. The latter is expected to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange at the end of the week -- on Jan. 23.

Jain said Egnyte initially planned to make its announcement on Jan. 27. But he didn’t want to chance Egnyte getting grouped in with Box should its IPO disappoint. “We don’t want to be defined by the way the market reacts to Box,” he said.

Of course Jain, whose company might be seen as a Box competitor (they are both named in the same Gartner MQ report as well as Forrester Wave), made it clear that though both companies provide solutions around file sharing, they are quite different.

“EFSS is table stakes,” he said. Box co-founder and CEO, Aaron Levie has said this too. Ditto for the CEO’s of a dozen other competing vendors.

He Who Hesitates is Lunch?

What makes Egnyte different from the other 90 plus providers in the space? “We play higher on the food chain,” said Jain, adding that Egnyte was “the first vendor to offer a hybrid (EFSS) product from which users can access information that’s stored both in the cloud and behind the firewall.” (Box and Dropbox for Business are both cloud-only solutions, but there are others that are hybrid, such as AirWatch by VMware, EMC Syncplicity, Citrix ShareFile and many others). There may be a bigger differentiator, though. Egnyte works with any cloud (not just its own) and with any mobile device as well.

It’s something that seems to appeal to companies like Balfour Beatty, a multinational infrastructure company that is, among other things, the largest construction company in the UK. It tried Box and quit it to move its 50,000 seats to Egnyte.

Companies like MJM (a marketer that is a wholly-owned subsidiary of WPP) and Fulton homes made similar moves. Some of them found cloud-only solutions to unnecessarily hog bandwidth or be of little value when Internet connectivity was poor.

With today’s announcement, Jain said Egnyte is leapfrogging other EFSS providers by applying big data and analytics to deliver “Adaptive Enterprise File Services with Content Intelligence.” What this translates to is supplying data management and data protection services so that content can be leveraged intelligently in a way that delights both end users and IT.

For example, if a file hasn’t been touched for a while, it will be archived automatically, said Jain. Files that are accessed frequently, but must be stored on premise, can be cached so that end users have a cloud-like experience. Other files will be stored according to usage, file size and security considerations. The win for end users is an uncompromised end user experience. The win for IT is security and compliance.

“We’re ultimately providing intelligent storage of unstructured data,” said Jain, on premise and/or in the cloud.

And this is something that Box and others don’t do, he claimed. “The cloud is an important part of the future, but cloud-only is as much of a myth as the paperless office.”

Bigger Opportunities

Jain is betting big that it is and that this strategic shift will elevate his company into the multi-billion File Management and Protection market.

He shared Egnyte’s technology road map around the initiative with us. It promises to deliver content intelligence built on comprehensive data collection and rich, predictive analytics. The intended result? End users are served a delightful experience and IT gets the smart reporting and auditing it needs.

If all goes as planned, Egnyte customers will not only gain insight into what’s happening with their corporate files and user activity but also the information they need to optimize their content strategies for better collaboration, security and cost efficiencies.

Is this a different road map than Box is pursuing? Jain certainly thinks so. But for what it’s worth, the Egnyte CEO genuinely hopes that Box’s IPO is a huge success. A rising tide, after all, raises all boats.