When Gartner released its inaugural Magic Quadrant for the Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing (EFSS) market, it predicted that by 2017 less than 10 percent of today's destination vendors would offer stand-alone products. That means that as many as 80 of those who are offering services today (there are well over 120), will have been absorbed into adjacent markets, such as collaboration, enterprise content management (ECM), mobility and storage.

What it didn’t articulate as clearly, as we see it, is how quickly the vendors mentioned in the study are raising their games, we reported on four different instances of this in the past week alone.

Who will succeed? Who will be acquired? And who will fade away? 

Making a List

While some vendors didn’t meet the criteria that Gartner was basing its ratings on when it did the study, some of them might today. Others don’t believe that hybrid and cloud-only is the way to go, Gartner does. Keep this in mind when you look at solutions for your company.

Here are the vendors that Gartner selected as Niche players.

Novell: Not everyone wants to store files in the cloud. Novell’s Filr might be a good choice for that crowd. Gartner says it keeps them behind the firewall to access file servers and NAS devices directly.

Its weaknesses, according to the report, are, in a sense caused by its strengths.  there’s no editing capability and documents are rendered through a viewer. There’s also no integration with Sharepoint which Gartner seems to believe is important.

We reached out to Novell to see what they thought about being labeled as “Niche”, they commented that while they were happy to be selected as a significant player, they felt that if different criteria had been used, they would have been called a Leader.

The criteria that would have won them a top spot? “If we defined the addressable market as large organizations who have a critical need to protect sensitive files,  while leveraging existing IT and security investments,  while delivering an easy-to-use mobility and sharing experience to end users, then Novell would be positioned in the upper right,” says Tom Scearce, senior product marketing manager for the Novell and Attachmate brands within The Attachmate Group.

Egnyte: Gartner calls Egnyte’s EFSS solution “a hybrid architecture that combines local on-premises storage with a public cloud repository.” It offers a public, cloud based solution, a cloud + on-premise continuous synching solution, and an on-premise solution that facilitates remote access and sharing

Gartner says Egnyte’s sole enterprise focus, its partnering with best-in-class companies like Jive and Google, and server to server encryption are its strengths.

Its weaknesses seem to stem from an unproven on-prem offering (that was made available just 3 months ago, so what would you expect?), its lack of certification for government markets (where it’s not looking to do business), and its European support services, which may need improvement.

We asked Egnyte what they thought of their Niche placement, and they indicated that since they aren’t aware of all of the criteria by which they were being judged, it was hard to answer.

Vineet Jain, the company’s CEO did offer this: “We have defined and led the market for hybrid storage and file sharing, having educated customers and offered market leading products in this category. This is evidenced by our significant customer wins, many against players listed as leaders or visionaries in the MQ.  We are continuing to make investments in R&D, partnerships and market expansion that will enhance our strengths further in the next year."

Intralinks: Intralinks has been rated first in Gartner’s Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software Suites for eight consecutive years.

The analyst says that its EFSS solution integrates nicely with other vendors’ products, that if offers specialized applications that are built on top of it and that DRM is among its strengths.

Weaknesses seem to center around overlapping products in the company’s product suite, making it hard to select one solution Vs. another, its contractual terms,  and that it doesn’t offer embedded content editing.

And while Intralinks is proud to have been selected for the quadrant, Doug Gordon, the company’s Senior Vice President isn’t sure an EFSS Magic Quadrant will be called for next year.

“We’ve long argued that FSS is a feature, not a complete solution,” he said. “Gartner also thinks that FSS functionality will be quickly absorbed into adjacent markets like enterprise collaboration, which is a core strength for us.”

Workshare: Gartner calls Workshare a document-centric collaboration platform used in regulated industries like legal, professional services, finance and accounting, and pharmaceuticals. It’s available in public cloud and hybrid offerings, offers security and collaboration, and works best when integrated with ECM offerings.

Its downside is that it’s provided by a small company that sometimes develops capabilities faster than it documents them, that it’s sometimes slow in providing support, and that it isn’t CMIS certified.

Its benefits, however, are substantial. So if it can improve on its weaknesses, it’s definitely worth looking at.

Workshare CEO Anthony Foy tells us that the company has 18,000 businesses and 2 million users all of whom are benefitting from “a powerful EFSS platform which in enabling secure collaboration when handling sensitive documents - from any device - helps to significantly increase productivity across teams.”