Take a good look at the leaders in Gartner’s quadrant for Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) and you’ll see some big differentiators. Box, for example, is a purely a public cloud play. Accellion’s kiteworks, at least up until now, has insisted that private cloud or on premise is the best way to go if you want to keep your information secure.

But things change.

This morning Accellion announced content connectors for Google Drive for Work and for Microsoft’s One Drive for Business. “It shouldn’t matter where you store your content, IT can track and manage it from anywhere,” said Paula Skokowski, Accellion’s Chief Marketing Officer.

While we might have seen this as an “about face” or even somewhat sacrilegious a few months ago, Skokowski insists that it has been in the works for some time.  “It’s an important next chapter for us,” she explains. With connectors to Google Drive and OneDrive, kiteworks can provide EFSS capabilities outside of the firewall. “Users need access to content regardless of where it is stored,” she added.

Where's the Content?

As of today, Accellion’s  kiteworks customers can access content stored in  SharePoint 2007, 2010, 2013, SharePoint Online, Windows File Shares and Distributed File Systems, Documentum, OpenText, Google Drive for Work and Microsoft OneDrive for Business.

“Information can be stored in 10 to 20 places,” said Skokowski, “A couple here. And a couple there. We enable you to get all of your content in one place.”

And users can see it all through “a single pane of glass” without needing to open new applications.

It’s not just access that  kiteworks provides, it also inherits and honors security and compliance rules and enforces user privileges in the process.

So, putting Accellion’s on-prem/private cloud capabilities aside, how does Accellion differentiate itself from the competition?

“We’re not trying to be the cloud,” said Skokowski, though it is worth noting that it does provide unlimited storage. (It is not a big part of their business.)

At the end of the day, Accellion is, as it describes itself, a mobile content platform that provides ubiquitous access to content stored in enterprise content management systems and cloud storage.

It provides a secure, “single pane of glass” through which user content can be accessed   via mobile device, while maintaining ‘document of record’ in the source system without content duplication. It also provides full control and visibility of enterprise content sharing for compliance with government and industry regulations such as HIPAA.

Change of Strategy

It’s interesting to note that, in the last few months, Accellion has changed its kiteworks play just a bit. In mid-July it introduced “kiteworks for teams”, a mobile content solution that can be downloaded for free on a 30 day free trial.

What’s significant about this is that Accellion generally sells directly to IT, as opposed to the way Box and Dropbox operate by getting end-users to download their products, fall in love, and beg IT to buy them.

Needless to say, Accellion’s change in strategy is indicative of its interest in growing their user base quickly

Learning Opportunities

The company’s pull back from its insistence that the “private cloud is the only safe way to go” may also be a way to win customers by providing what they want (or think they want) vs. debating about what they need and what will keep them safe.

Again, it’s a smart way to win new customers quickly.

Watchdox Will Offer a Content Connector, Too

At Gartner’s Catalyst Conference in San Diego yesterday, Watchdox, which Gartner named as a “Visionary” in its EFSS MQ last month, announced its own content connector, namely “Watchdox Connectors for Cloud Storage Services”.

A press release from the company said that that the connectors will enable users to access and share all their files from a single interface across all platforms, (aka “through a single pane of glass”).

While we’ve heard other EFSS vendors make this claim, Watchdox approaches it a bit differently. It said it would allow only one-way traffic from a cloud drive into WatchDox

The company is betting that IT managers aren’t happy with the choices that are currently available because security comes at the cost of productivity or vice versa, especially as storage and sharing is done across platforms.

The first Cloud Connector Watchdox will take to market is for Google Drive. A release date has not yet been announced. And while this may seem peculiar, Watchdox, like other EFSS providers might want Enterprises to know what they have in the works and using their roadmaps as hooks.

Does Box Want to be in the News, Too? 

Less than 24 hours after Dropbox announced its new Dropbox for Business Android app, Box announced that Box Notes is now available for Android.

Now clearly, we don’t suspect that anyone pulled an all-nighter so that the announcement could be made today, but it is a bit curious that Aaron Levie and his team didn’t wait for a few weeks; after all, Boxworks, the company’s user conference starts on September 2.

Besides, Box is going to be in the news pretty soon anyway … keep your eyes on CMSWire to find out why.