Enterprise file sync and share isn't going anywhere.

Once viewed primarily as a consumer tool, the software has gained acceptance in the workplace to the point where Forrester analyst Cheryl McKinnon calls it "firmly entrenched in the enterprise."  

Shortly after their report looking at the top cloud file sharing vendors, McKinnon and her Forrester colleagues are back again with an in-depth report on the leading hybrid and on premises EFSS providers (fee charged).

Why Hybrid?

Not every enterprise is ready, willing or able to surrender all of its content to the cloud.

The authors noted that in 2015, 47 percent of data and analytics decision-makers reported their enterprises held between 1 terabyte and 99 terabytes of unstructured data within their company network and "that there may be little appetite to move, migrate, or duplicate content to take advantage of EFSS."

Some managers actively choose to leave documents found in on-premises file shares, storage devices and ECM systems exactly where they are. Hybrid EFSS solutions were built for this crowd.

"Hybrid EFSS providers give EA (enterprise architecture) pros the flexibility to deliver a great (consumer-like) file-sharing experience without migration efforts," wrote McKinnon.

Narrowing the Field

Over 100 tech vendors market EFSS services to companies, plus a number of ECM vendors offer products aimed at solving the same problems. Forrester narrowed that group down to 10 vendors which it deemed "most significant." They are: Accellion, Acronis, BlackBerry, Citrix, Egnyte, IBM, Microsoft, Syncplicity, Varonis and VMware.

Forrester used three high-level criteria "buckets" to evaluate the vendors: Current Offering, Strategy and Market Presence. What's notable is that McKinnon and co-authors Gene Leganza, Shaun McGovern and Diane Lynch tested each vendor's mobile app with a large file. Forrester also looked into its own interactions with customers to determine which offerings were of the most interest to prospective buyers.

Here are the seven vendors Forrester picked as "Leaders," though McKinnon was careful to note that buyers should evaluate vendors based on their specific needs. 

A Look at the Leaders

Microsoft was the clear winner when it came to strategy. Forrester liked the investment the software giant was making in bridging SharePoint with OneDrive for Business and its creation of native apps for Android and iOS. That being said, it was noted that mobile and external file sharing need improvement.

Forrester called out Accellion for its high level of customer satisfaction, its flexibility, usability and security. The analysts also noted its integration with a wide variety of ECM solutions. Accellion's biggest downside appeared to be its small market presence in comparison with the nine other vendors in the Wave.

Egnyte stood out in its ability to connect with content in any common internet file system (CIFS), ECM, cloud storage or repository. Forrester also noted that it differentiated itself via analytics, which provide data visualization and usage patterns. The authors noted room for improvement in other areas. 

Now free of its EMC shackles, Syncplicity ranked high based on two strengths: usability and security. Forrester noted that customers applauded its file-sharing mobile support and rights management capabilities. But functionalities like Search, the analysts noted, left room for improvement.

Forrester featured IBM for features like visual indicators that give clear permissions for external and internal document use and for its multi-tenant offering on IBM’s SoftLayer Cloud. The company still ranked third based on Forrester's "current offering" criteria. While features around recommended content were given high marks, a number of other areas needed improvement.

Forrester noted Blackberry's significant market share, some of it won via its WatchDox acquisition. It’s no surprise that the company's business world origins would make it among the most secure in on-premises appliances or in a public or private cloud instance.

VMware, via its AirWatch product, teeters on the edge of the Wave that separates Leaders from High Performers. It provides connectors for the leading cloud services and for on-premises content stores including ECM systems and includes integration, interoperability, security and life-cycle management. You'll need to read the report to find out how robust its capabilities are.