While it may seem like the cloud storage and file syncing market has become a fairly settled one – Dropbox is the king with a few other vendors filling out the royal court – it seems like every day there is news about new players entering the game or minor players releasing new features.
The truth is, at least in the enterprise space, that the majority of IT departments and organizations out there are still trying to figure out a secure and effective way to extend its existing storage arrays out into the cloud and onto mobile devices.
Dropbox may be the king with consumers, but there are plenty of viable enterprise alternatives out there for IT to choose from. Here are some of the latest vendors or products that have recently caught my attention over the last month or so.
Nasuni has made a name for itself by focusing on enterprise-class cloud storage for SMBs and large businesses with remote office locations by combining on-premises hardware with cloud storage. The idea is to create a flexible, hybrid approach.
About a week ago, the Natick, Mass.-based company finally added support for Android and iOS devices, which will extend a company’s storage infrastructure to mobile devices.
For IT, the same security policies that apply on desktops behind the firewall also apply on mobile devices. The company says this approach is not merely integrating with Active Directory, like other vendors in the market, but extending AD to new endpoint devices. It’s treating mobile no differently than it would treat a desktop or laptop.
Natsuni charges customers based on the amount of storage they have under management.
OneHub is an FTP server replacement to make file syncing and content collaboration/management a bit easier. This week, the Seattle-based company launched a new iPad application to complement its existing iPhone application. To be honest, I’m not entirely familiar with OneHub, but the company started in 2007 and the products seem tastefully designed and highly user-friendly.
Some nice features that caught my eye were the ability for business to customize and re-brand the OneHub product so it looks like a home-grown application. That could be a huge benefit to companies that work with external customers and need to share documents in a collaborative space.
OneHub can be installed locally, behind the firewall, or it can also work as a cloub-based SaaS version. For $500 per month, enterprises get an unlimited number of users and workspaces, one TB of storage, customization, and a bevy of IT security and policy control measures.
SkyDox is a UK-based file sharing and collaboration platform that aims to bring the cloud to the enterprise. It began in 2009 and now it’s merging with Workshare, a document comparison and control company that has been around for 13 years.
The merger isn’t terribly surprising given that each company was founded by the same person. SkyDox provides a cloud platform and Workshare brings a heritage of 18,000 global companies, incredible penetration into the legal services market (approximately 500,000 users in that market alone), and robust desktop software. Over the next six months and three planned feature releases, the two companies will merge products into a single offering that will offer both cloud storage, file syncing, and now better document collaboration and versioning control.
Existing customers will get a free upgrade as the features rollout and new customers will have three subscription service tiers to choose from. The Personal Tier is free and includes limited features and storage, Team costs $180 per user per year, and Enterprise costs $300 per user per year.
The Team level allows features such as synchronization, audit trails, mobile app access, admin interface to set policy, etc. The Enterprise version allows for all of that, plus things like full index search, metadata management, backend integration with other document management systems.
With the Team subscription you can have between three and 99 seats, and with Enterprise, you can have from 100 to an unlimited number of users.
Rather than taking a one ring to rule them all approach, Seattle-based Topia Technology is charting a slightly unique path with Skoot. The product acts as a connecting platform, allowing organizations to share and track data across devices and applications like Dropbox and Google Docs. Integration with Box, SkyDrive, Google Drive and more are in the works, the company told me in an interview.
The idea is to not become a storage provider (although they do offer that with Skoot Vault), but to tie together all the various systems that users are adopting to get around IT. With Skoot, IT can register devices and content, and then catalog the data with metadata. That metadata is then encrypted and passed through the Skoot Vault for syncing across registered devices. When that metadata is accessed on a device it is de-encrypted cient-side for viewing or editing within say, QuickOffice.
As of right now, there is support for iOS, Android, and Windows, with a Mac OSX client and a web client at the end of September. Skoot is licensed on an annual basis based on the number of users. It starts at $18.95 per user per year for 2,000 users.
Axway is a software company best known for a host of enterprise security and integration products, including MailGate which protects email servers from spam, inbound attacks, and outbound data loss prevention.
DropZone, then, isn’t a wild departure for the company. It’s explicitly designed to be functionally similar to Dropbox, but with better security and policy measures that are controlled by IT departments. It’s integrated with Active Directory and there’s an Outlook plugin so users can access files and manage sharing through the one piece of software they probably spend 90% of their time in.
At the same time, there’s also support for a browser-based client. Mobile applications are working their way through the approval process. To get set up, IT departments simply need to install the linux appliance, which is locked down through SSL encryption and go through the installation menu. Set up integration links between LDAP servers, set various privileges and user roles, they should be good to go. Taking it a step further, they can then customize the product and deploy the Outlook plugin.
It’s a different approach because it’s so heavily enterprised focused. It feels like an enterprise product mimicking the functionality of consumer products. Is that a good approach? I don’t know, it probably depends on how easy it is to use.
After all, if none of these products are as close to being as easy as Dropbox to use, then it doesn’t really matter, does it? People are still going to revert back to the king.