Yesterday Citrix announced that it bought a file-sharing company called "Sharefile." Citrix claims Sharefile is like a corporate version Dropbox or Box, though I've yet to find anyone who's ever heard of them. Citrix is creating a new "Data Sharing Group" in the company which will include Sharefile as well as whatever products Citrix creates for their "follow me" data strategy.
You may recall back at Synergy that Citrix announced plans to integrate existing cloud data services like Dropbox & Box into the Citrix receiver clients. At the time I thought this was great. "Why reinvent the wheel with a proprietary cloud data product? Why try to compete with Dropbox? Way to go!" Here's what I wrote during the Synergy Opening keynote live blog:
Now the next questions that people ask is "What happens to the data? Sure I have all my apps in one place, but for data?" Announcement: Follow-me Data. Users have datacenter data, local data, and cloud data. So Citrix wants to let IT say "Yes" to all of these types of data, but it involves security, syncing, policies, remote wipe, policies, collaboration, etc. They need to focus on data on access, data in transit, and data at rest. This seems cool.. Wonder how it works? Demo time again... There's a new button in Citrix Receiver for "Data." And clicking that shows folders for Dropbox, Enterprise data, and Box.net folders. Citrix will encrypt certain areas of the drives (like for data only), while leaving the rest alone. This is really cool too. I love that Citrix isn't trying to "own" the data sync, but that they're also leveraging these cloud data providers. Whoa.. it works on the iPad too? With completely local offline secure data? Man that's cool. You can click on a Word doc on the iPad, and if you're connected it will launch a published app copy of Word which will reach into the local storage of the iPad to open that file in Word running in the datacenter.We need to dig into that! I wonder if all versions of Receiver (i.e. Mac!) will support all of this? If so.. nice work Citrix!
I guess Citrix providing this service is okay as long as they continue to integrate with other data services too.
Citrix has announced that the goals of the new Data Sharing group will be:
- Make common data services like search, share, sync, secure, authenticate, open and preview available to a wide range of applications, services and use cases through a set of open APIs.
- Extend secure data sharing services to new and existing apps stored in public and private clouds and accessed from millions of different business and consumer devices.
- Connect data seamlessly to the way people collaborate today, ensuring that the right documents and files are always accessible when needed, and always up to date.
Leaders & followers. (Or is it followers & leaders?)
Is Citrix's acquisition of Sharefile the logical extension of their Follow-me data plan? Or a reaction to VMware?
In August, VMware previewed a technology they're calling "Octopus" which is like their cloud-based data service to compete with Dropbox in the enterprise. At first I thought Octopus was stupid because it's a service that people would buy from VMware, so I thought (again), "Why is VMware getting into that shitty direct-to-customer service base?" But VMware representatives explained that the initial version of Octopus would be hosted by VMware just to get it into the market fast and to work out the kinks, but ultimately it will be built on their vCloud platform and could be hosted, packaged, and sold by any vCloud provider. So that means a German-based provider could offer Octopus capabilities to German customers which would meet specific German laws, or even that companies could use the vCloud stuff running in their own datacenters to run their own internal Octopus services.
Ok, so I get it with Octopus. That's cool.
So now back to Citrix, I guess they think that's cool too. I would imagine they'd do something similar, like maybe they continue to sell Sharefile direct to the public (probably via the Citrix Online brand), but then they could also allow service providers to end customers to create their own Sharefile-based environments.
What do you think?