You’d think that by now that all the angles for enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) have been thoroughly explored. However the folks at Unifyle say that’s not the case, and that there’s a need for EFSS products that do a better job of leaving files undisturbed.
At a quick glance Unifyle looks like many other EFSS products (or at least on-premises ones): There’s a server that sits in your data center and connects to existing enterprise file shares, SharePoint, FTP servers, Samba servers, and so on, as well as cloud-based storage services. For clients, Unifyle provides mobile apps for iOS and Android, a Windows file syncing client, and a web interface; you can also map it as a drive and connect to it as a WebDAV server. Unifyle has built-in auditing capabilities, support for LDAP, and the mobile clients work with the Citrix Worx and Symantec Sealed mobile app management ecosystems.
What’s makes Unifyle different? They say that even though many EFSS products can connect to existing on-premises resources, they often don’t extend all of their functionality to them. Instead, many products will pull a file into a different repository to sync and share it. That repository may be on-premises, but the file is still getting moved or replicated.
With Unifyle this doesn’t happen. Their whole premise is that all the syncing and sharing they provide is done with the files wherever they happen to be, regardless of what client you’re using and what existing repositories you’re accessing.
This brings a few related benefits: There’s no migration required (or as the case may be at many companies, no prolonged changeover by attrition), so deployment is fairly simple. And since files aren’t actually moving, nothing gets orphaned. If you have apps that are hard-coded back to the existing systems, or users that aren’t on board with Unifyle yet, that’s fine. (And if the Unifyle server goes down, users can always fail back to whatever they were doing to access files before.) This approach also makes it easier to search across all these repositories at once.
So can Unifyle go up against the established competition? And is their angle unique enough?
Unifyle is pretty small—just 9 people. The founders, Srinivas “Venky” Venkataraman (who was the CEO of AppStream before it was acquired by Symantec) and Conrad Herrmann built Unifyle as an extension of their previous project, Primadesk, a consumer-oriented file access service. Unifyle is currently in beta, with several pilots in production, including with resellers. The official launch is expected sometime in early 2015.
If we assume that we’re still in the early(ish) days of EFSS, then it’s entirely reasonable to assume that there are still use cases that aren’t adequately being served—that means there’s still space for alternate products like Unifyle. On the other hand, there’s no escaping that Unifyle is heading into a field of of much larger and more established competitors.