If you're an enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) vendor, your days may be numbered. 

At least that is the case if the predictions of Gartner analysts Monica Basso, Karen A. Hobert and Jeffrey Mann are correct.

"By 2018, 70 percent of EFSS destination vendors will cease to exist,"wrote the authors of this year’s Magic Quadrant for Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing (paywall). They expect that the vast majority of the 100 plus providers in the space will either be acquired or go out of business. The analysts cite the commoditization of the technology as the reason.

What is to come of the remaining 30 percent? According to Gartner the analysts, they will either empower the digital workplace or modernize corporate infrastructures.

Several things stand out in this year'sMQ. First and foremost is that only 13 of the over 100 vendors offering EFSS solutions made it into the MQ at all. In 2014 there were 19.

While vendors like VMWare AirWatch disappeared from the MQ because it is no longer available as a stand-alone EFSS product, others like Acronis and CTERA, failed to generate enough revenue to qualify ($20 million or more was required).

Gartner 2016 EFSS Magic Quadrant

Dropbox Makes it to the Leader's Quadrant

For naysayers who claim that San Francisco-based Dropbox isn't ready for business, think again (unless you know better than Gartner, that is). The analysts took a close look at what the content, collaboration and workflow provider offers and moved it into the Leaders Quadrant where it joins longtime residents Box and Citrix.

According to the analysts, Dropbox became serious about business just two years ago. The authors note the progress it has made in supporting large-scale deployments. 

"Dropbox continues to extend security and administration features that offer administrators the visibility and control that an IT organization needs to manage a collaboration solution companywide," stated the report. They also noted that Dropbox is the "best-in-class benchmark for ease of use."

This is not to suggest all is rosy. As with every vendor in the MQ, the report offers cautions. 

Like Box, Dropbox is public cloud only. It also lacks integrations with the big names in on-premises ECM tools, including EMC Documentum, IBM FileNet, Microsoft SharePoint and OpenText. While SharePoint integration for copying is available, it is based on third-party technology. 

The authors also note Dropbox may fall short on meeting requirements for international data residency, data geolocation or data sovereignty. 

Dropbox may soon take care of the latter concern as it plans to host customers' data in local data centers in other regions, including a forthcoming launch for Germany, based on Amazon Web Services.

Egnyte Propelled to Leaders MQ

Gartner views EFSS provider Egnyte through a different lens than its Leaders Quadrant neighbors Box, Citrix and Dropbox. It points to its "flexible, hybrid architecture that separates productivity from storage, which can be in the cloud, on-premises or both,” as a differentiating strength. 

Ditto for its ability to support integration with storage infrastructure from multiple vendors, as well as data access, management and migrations.

Learning Opportunities

While Gartner applauded Mountain View, Calif.-based Egnyte's file analysis, analytics support, content management, and automated user and IT administrator reporting, it noted something equally as impressive: The analysts wrote that "Egnyte's customer satisfaction is generally high and is the highest of all the vendors in this Magic Quadrant,adding that Egnyte's pricing is perceived as affordable and offering the best value."

All of that aside, the authors cautioned that the flexibility of available options in the product might confuse some. They also noted the continued lack of language localization for the UI, IT administration tools and documentation.

What Happened to Perennial MQ Leaders Accellion and Syncplicity?

Both Palo Alto, Calif.-based Accellion and Santa Clara, Calif.-based Syncplicity have slipped from the Leaders quadrant for at least one common reason — money. Both compete against what appears to be bigger, better capitalized leaders.

While Accellion's strengths, according to Gartner, prioritize, "EFSS initiatives for mobile access to a variety of corporate data repositories and require customized mobile apps to support document-centric business workflows while ensuring data protection and compliance, particularly in regulated markets," Syncplicity's focus "on data infrastructure modernization, security and data governance, along with user productivity and collaboration."

Whether the promised cash inflow from Syncplicity's (relatively) new owner, Skyview Capital, will land it back once again in the Leaders quadrant remains to be seen. 

Lingering Questions

It is interesting to note that both Mountain View, Calif.-based Google, with Google Drive, and Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, with OneDrive for Business, seem stuck in the Challengers quadrant. 

Among Microsoft’s many deficiencies is its inability to download more than one file at a time. “In addition, it does not allow a folder to be shared with an external user using an anonymous guest link — users have to sign-in.” This would seem to impede, rather than empower, productivity. This is, reportedly, scheduled to change.

Though Google Drive, according to Gartner, "sits at the center of Google's vision for modern productivity and collaboration, and will evolve with machine-learning and natural-language search capabilities," it falls short in enterprise-important areas including “compliance requirements for data sovereignty and residency features, regional cloud implementations policy-driven storage location, regional isolation of data centers," and more.

Though not noted in the report, both One Drive for Business, and Google's Cloud business, as a whole, are under new leadership, so this could all change. 

But whether that change will matter in the disappearing market the report's authors describe is hard to tell. The two companies may choose instead to focus on other areas of their businesses that generate more revenue. 

Title image Ali Inay