The Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing (EFSS) marketplace is ripe for disruption, but probably not via a huge technological breakthrough of some sort.

EFSS options are maturing quickly and it’s becoming quite commoditized. Consider that, according to Gartner, there are more than 140 vendors in the space — and that’s too many.

Sixteen of them meet the criteria for Gartner’s Magic Quadrant (MQ) for EFSS. That’s probably more than the market needs, but it’s likely to be a problem that solves itself.

Industry Consolidation

Monica Basso, Charles Smulders and Jeffrey Mann, who researched and wrote the Gartner report, expect less than 10 percent of today's stand-alone EFSS offerings will exist by 2018.

To be frank, not every vendor in the MQ wants to be classified as an EFSS player. Alastair Mitchell of Huddle has told me that he thinks of EFSS as an “albatross” and doesn’t want his company to be known for “shuffling files back and forth.” More on that in our next article.

Gartner defines EFSS as a ”range of on-premises or cloud-based capabilities that enables individuals to synchronize and share documents, photos, videos and files across mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets and PCs.”

The analysts noted that “sharing” can take place between coworkers, suppliers, customers and others, mobile devices and as content exchange between apps. “Security and collaboration support are critical aspects for enterprises to adopt EFSS,” they wrote.

The Gartner analysts also wrote that beyond standard EFSS functionalities, the vendors they selected might offer additional features around mobility, security, administration and management, back-end server integration via connectors to corporate servers (for example, SharePoint) and cloud services, content manipulation, collaboration and more.

Software EFSS products may or may not have one main repository. Some products integrate with existing third-party repositories that are deployed on-premises or in the cloud.

Cut to the Chase

That being said, who are the Leaders in this year’s Gartner MQ for EFSS?

Either Citrix or Syncplicity takes the top prize, depending on whether you rate “Ability to Execute” (Citrix) or “Completeness of Vision” more important.

Box ranks third in the Leaders Quadrant and Accellion is the fourth and final Leader. It’s worth noting, too, that Egnyte barely missed being ranked a Leader.

Gartner EFSS MQ

Why Citrix Rules

Citrix executes on basic EFSS functionalities, is HIPAA and FINRA compliant and provides a “single pane of glass” to view content from almost anywhere, including from repositories like Microsoft’s One Drive for Business, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and others. It also shines in the Citrix ecosystem when integrated with Citrix XenMobile, Citrix Receiver and Citrix Desktop. Better yet, it’s practically a poster child for International compliance via its Restricted Storage Zones feature, which takes care of the concerns that European Enterprises have.

On the downside, Gartner thinks DRM capability is missing when it comes to downloading documents on unmanaged devices, that procurement needs to be simpler, that international support needs to be expanded. Still, these are easily solvable problems for the most part.

Gartner likes Syncplicity’s Vision

As we’ve written before, Syncplicity has a delightful UI, an attractive customer success program and much of the goodness we wrote about last year.

Gartner also points to its many benefits of being owned by and now aligned with EMC. Since EMC’s divestiture of Syncplicity is brand new and we haven’t seen the new relationship in action, we’re going to hold off on saying more until we speak to Gartner.

Learning Opportunities

Box Rates for Cloud Option 

If a Public Cloud only solution is a viable option for your enterprise, Box will most likely be on the shortlist. Gartner notes that it aims to be the data backbone in the cloud for business system applications, that it engages with developers and partners, that it offers strong data protection capabilities, enhanced 3D imaging technologies and more. The analysts also noted Box’s interest in addressing specific industry requirements.

Box’s weaknesses, as defined by Gartner, seem to be less technology-oriented and more around its customer acquisition and business models. Its freemium model that allows individuals to sign up with their corporate email ID’s could create problems. And there are also Box’s financials to consider. Although its high costs of customer acquisition come less and less of a shock as we keep hearing about them, they remain hard to digest.

Features Make Accellion Shine

Gartner said that customizable, mobile file-sharing apps are where Accellion shines. Ditto for its easy integration to backend repositories like SharePoint, Windows file shares, OpenText, Microsoft OneDrive for Business and more.

What’s missing? A significant international presence, collaborative editing capabilities and back-end integration with IBM products.

That being said, Accellion rates for its combined Completeness of Vision/Ability to Execute.

Egnyte: From Niche Player to Visionary

In last year’s MQ Egnyte was listed as a niche player. Its on-premises offering was still new and considered to be unproven. This year Gartner calls Egnyte a destination EFSS product “based on a hybrid architecture that combines local on-premises storage with a public cloud repository.”

Gartner likes Egnyte’s public API, its use of content analytics, its ease of use and responsiveness to customers.

What’s lacking? Some built-in capabilities in its mobile app, a hybrid track record (which can only come with time) load balancing and a few more.

Disruption to Come?

The EFSS market is extremely competitive and many of the capabilities the vendors within in it provide are fairly generic. While some providers outside of the Leaders MQ are playing catch-up (and gaining ground quickly) those within it are working hard to diversify themselves via content collaboration capabilities, mobility and more.

It’s also worth mentioning that many of the players in this market are still private and that at least one non-Gartner analyst with whom we’ve spoken (they have asked not to be named) suspects some puffery by a vendor(s).

Stay tuned for more…

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  Title image by Oleg.

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