2014-29-August-Confusion.jpgHey IT Manager: if you don’t think your company has a file sync and share solution, you’re fooling yourself. By some estimates, over one third of your employees are using one as many as four times per day. And if protecting your company’s information is your responsibility that spells trouble. Because whether you want to admit it or not, you've lost control.

Bad as that sounds, you’re hardly alone. More than three-quarters of companies have yet to choose an Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) solution(s). And there are many, many to choose from.

Gartner, in its July 2014 Magic Quadrant report on the EFSS market, said that there were more than 100 vendors vying for your business. That’s a bit overwhelming, no? And even if you were to look at only the 19 that made the MQ, it’s still too many. Not only that, but now many of these vendors are pushing out new capabilities, new interfaces, new storage limits and pricing updates every few weeks -- we can’t write often enough or fast enough to cover them all.

That being said, there’s good news as well. Competition causes everyone to come to the table with their best play and to keep improving on it. What that means at this point is that, in most cases, your cloud storage limits are nearing infinity. If you’re shopping, you can practically take that criteria off of your evaluation list.

Leading EFSS vendors and analysts will tell you that it’s features, services and even software you should look at and that that’s what you’re paying for. And while some analysts say the market is quickly becoming commoditized, we beg to differ.

In that light, we asked a number of providers who made it into the MQ the following question:

With all the recent changes in the EFSS landscape over the past few weeks such as vendors dropping prices, raising storage limits or eliminating them completely, the differentiators via that criteria have all but vanished. So the question now is what makes you different from your competitors? While Cloud-only vs. Hybrid is an obvious differentiator, what do you specifically offer that separates you from the pack?

Here are their answers, in alphabetical order by vendor name.

Yorgen Edholm, CEO of Accellion

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One area where Accellion is light years ahead is with our technical infrastructure and security capabilities. We have a three-tier architecture that allows the web, application, and storage tiers to be placed anywhere in the network, independent of each other. For example, the web tier can be placed in the DMZ, so mobile access is easy for internal employees and external vendors, while the application and storage tiers can be placed behind the internal firewall for enhanced security. Each tier has a unique authentication token, making it exponentially harder for an intrusion or data breach to occur. Data storage is a commodity, which is why we’re seeing so many prices drop to zero. Winners in the EFSS market won’t be will be chosen based on how many terabytes of storage they offer, but on how secure we keep our customers’ content.

John Marshall, senior vice president and general manager, AirWatch by VMware

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The content storage wars provide a great opportunity for AirWatch Secure Content Locker to accelerate customer adoption. Different business units within an organization often use various cloud repositories, but also require access to network file servers like SharePoint. With integration into more than 35 content repositories, Secure Content Locker provides one interface with advanced encryption and secure collaboration across business units and the extended enterprise of contractors, suppliers and third party vendors.

In addition to being storage agnostic, we built Secure Content Locker from the ground up to integrate with the AirWatch enterprise mobility management (EMM) platform, which provides additional features for security, cost controls and collaboration. Combined with the AirWatch platform, IT departments can provide added layers of security to end users for certain types of content, such as the ability to restrict a file like a board book to be viewed only in a certain location, during a certain period of time or both. We also extend powerful telecom expense avoidance controls that are unique to AirWatch, such as the ability to prevent large files from being downloaded over a cellular network. With added security measures, including watermarking, screen capture restrictions and jailbreak detection, we provide customers with full data loss prevention capabilities and the advanced encryption for data at rest, in transit and while being viewed.

Now as part of VMware, we have the unique advantage of working with VMware's network of 75,000 partners and 500,000 customers. We believe our continued innovation, viability and customer adoption rate position Secure Content Locker as a clear leader in the industry.

Bill Carovano, senior director, ShareFile Enterprise, Citrix

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The price of cloud storage isn't particularly relevant to our customers or our strategy. Simple cloud storage by itself isn't why customers choose ShareFile.

The value that customers derive from ShareFile is via the workflows that we enable and integrate with. A good example of this is a mobile workflow that involves Office file editing or PDF annotation within the same app where you access your files (and where they are securely encrypted). Routing a file for approval with an electronic signature is another example. When it comes to our largest customers, most use ShareFile either with on-premises storage or to mobilize data in existing systems such as SharePoint or file shares.

ShareFile is a standalone product but it's also part of the broader Citrix solution. It's part of our EMM offering XenMobile (which, like ShareFile is a Gartner MQ "Leader" in its respective market) and is integrated with our virtual app/desktop (XenApp / XenDesktop) products, as well as the Citrix Workspace Suite. In fact, we're the only vendor with an EFSS solution that is specially optimized for use with virtual app and desktop infrastructures.

Kitty Oestlien, head of marketing, Dropbox for Business

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We hear from our users that they choose Dropbox for three key reasons.

First, it really starts with best-in-class sync. It doesn’t matter what kind of features or functionality a service offers unless you know your files will always sync accurately, quickly, and reliably. Providing that kind of sync quality means a lot of complex things done right under the hood -- like delta sync (if you make a small change to a large PPT, we’ll only update that small change, which lets us sync 10s of times faster) or streaming sync.

Second, it’s about content availability where and how you need it. We’re cross-platform, support a huge range of file types, and have integrations with more than 300,000 apps that enhance your workflows.

Third, it boils down to ease of use. User experience and simplicity are at the heart of how we build product, and we hear from customers every day that Dropbox “just works” (no training, no slogging through a ton of complex settings and steps). This is the result of us sweating over all the ways we can make complex problems really seamless and simple (a great example of this is our new desktop connect flow).

The strength of our core Dropbox product applies to Dropbox for Business, too -- with the added differentiation of familiarity and adoption. Dropbox has 300 million users, meaning businesses are choosing a solution their employees already use and love (chances are, their partners and contractors do too). And for IT, they’re able to deploy a solution they know will be adopted, merging control and visibility with a great return on investment.

Vineet Jain, CEO of Egnyte

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It has become clear that storage is a commodity now and simply being able to provide an overlying UI for file sharing is table stakes at this point. The real issues that companies are trying to solve, specifically in the enterprise, are access, control, and security. The end users want the ease of use while the IT departments want to maintain maximum control of corporate data. That is a difficult balancing act that everyone is trying to simplify right now. With Egnyte we are able to create differentiation "behind the scenes." We are able to provide IT with choice. They can choose what part of their data stores get stored where - cloud-only, on-prem only, or a mix of both -- while the end users still experience the same easy-to-use interface regardless of the infrastructure being deployed. This triage of access, control, and security go much deeper than just an EFSS SaaS solution and as I mentioned before the file sync and share function of our business is just a part of the overall enterprise file services what we are actually providing.

Jeetu Patel, general manager, EMC Syncplicity

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We agree that differentiation in the enterprise file sync and share market is not about storage and price. We think differentiation will come from several dimensions.

First, we think apps need to create an emotional connection with users -- both through amazing design and functionality. They should not just give them access to their content, but also eliminate mundane tasks by applying analytics and intelligence that anticipates their needs and overall workflow. Syncplicity has made a massive investment in design that users love and drives adoption, but we also believe the value in sync and share will come from the intelligence we build into the apps themselves.

Another differentiator is our "No Silos" approach. If an organization already uses Microsoft SharePoint or file shares, they can access them through the same great mobile apps without needing to migrate a single file or recreate authentication and access controls, and there is no need to replicate that content in our cloud service.

Of course, we also lead with what we think is the most robust set of security integrations and policies and flexible storage deployment options on the market today. But at the end of the day, this is a user-driven market and all of the IT features we offer won't matter if users don't love the app. And it's in that balance that Syncplicity shines.

Reuben Krippner, director of product management for Office 365, Microsoft

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Microsoft’s approach with OneDrive is differentiated because we’re the only vendor that offers file sync and share for both consumers and enterprise customers and as part of a comprehensive productivity and collaboration offering. OneDrive for Business offers the flexibility of a reliable and secure, enterprise-class service on its own, but is also tightly integrated within Office 365, the fastest growing commercial product in Microsoft’s history. Because OneDrive for Business is part of Office 365, it enables real-time co-authoring, Yammer social conversations alongside documents and simple email integration, so people can send documents with a link instead of an attachment for better version control. Powerful search and discovery of files through our new Delve experience are also powered by OneDrive. Everything we do is through the lens of making it easier for people to get things done on any device, while giving IT the control and confidence corporate data is secure and compliant.

So, IT Manager, where does this leave you? In need of a solution and with many good choices. From our point of view, the best way to shop might be to look at your needs. What serves you best, Cloud, on premises, or hybrid?

What solution will your users be delighted to use? As Patel said, “At the end of the day, this is a user-driven market and all of the IT features we offer won't matter if users don't love the app.

It’s also worth considering what they are already using because as an old cigarette commercial used to say, “I’d rather fight than switch”. Do you cater to a crowd that loves Dropbox, Microsoft Office, Citrix tools like GoToMyPC PC?

Know what your users will embrace, what will keep your files safe and secure, and how much it makes sense to spend. Subscription prices vary greatly. Though we’re not necessarily comparing apples to apples, based on a random sample, we’ve seen it at $150/month/user with EMC Syncplicity and as high as $35.00/user month at Box (who did not comment for this article other than to say that they’ve taken storage limits off the table, but you can see our most recent coverage on them here). It’s also worth noting that some companies, like Accellion are primarily software companies vs. service providers, and that some solutions are parts of larger service offerings.

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