Egnyte has helped create the file sync and share (FS&S) product space since their founding in 2007, focusing on the enterprise end of this crowded market. They have developed a solution set that addresses the issues most company IT organizations have with cloud file sharing products – security, control, efficiency, etc. Now, Egnyte has refined their approach to this market, understanding they must ‘serve two masters’ by meeting the needs of their employee/end users and those of IT. Egnyte has also introduced a new capability called “Content Intelligence”, a way for companies to take the next step with their FS&S architecture and leverage these data sets more fully.
Egnyte combines on-premise storage with cloud-based storage to address some of the issues over performance and control that IT has historically had with FS&S. Storage Switzerland did a write up “The Evolution of Cloud File Sharing Services” last year, where we detailed the company’s technology and compared it to what other vendors were offering. But they took that ‘hybrid’ architecture a step further with their “Storage Connect” which enabled companies to store their most critical data sets locally, behind the corporate firewall, but still provide access to those data using the cloud. This allowed companies to share data, without actually putting that data or metadata out in the cloud.
Control Plane and Data Plane
Egnyte’s technology essentially separates the FS&S architecture into a data plane and a control plane. This is how they could implement cloud-based access to locally stored data with their Storage Connect deployment mentioned above. In the data plane, Egnyte’s open and hybrid architecture is compatible with multiple cloud service providers, including Google, Amazon AWS, Azure, OpenStack, or solutions using EMC Atmos such as AT&T. Egnyte supports any CIFS-enabled storage, but has additional features with Netgear, Synology, EMC and NetApp[I2] . Egnyte is also compatible with all major device platforms, including Windows, iOS, Android and Kindle, and applications including SalesForce.com, Microsoft Outlook/Office and Google Apps.
In the control plane they’ve identified six characteristics or capabilities of FS&S, which they call “Adaptive Enterprise File Services”. Three of these pertain to the user or line of business and three apply to IT. For users Egnyte’s solution provides a unified experience across devices and applications, including mobile devices. This means they can access their favorite apps on multiple devices with the same look and feel, essentially, wherever they are.
For IT, Egnyte provides end-to-end security and a unified administrative and management interface, as well as reporting on user activity and back-end infrastructure monitoring. Now they’ve introduced new Adaptive file services called “Content Intelligence” for users and “Smart Reporting” for IT.
New Feature – Content Intelligence
Content Intelligence refers to the ability that Egnyte’s system now has to provide data about usage patterns and about the data itself, and to report on that data. This is information that the Egnyte architecture already captures, but is making available to users and IT to improve their workflows and collaboration. These data include user-level information such as authorship and permissions, devices and applications involved, etc. Also collected is file-level information such as time and location, file type and modification, access, file movement and sharing. Egnyte captures this information for all files it manages, regardless of where those files are stored – on premises and in the cloud.
New Feature – Smart Reporting
According to the company, enabled employees can leverage this rich set of metadata to ‘adapt’ how they collaborate and share data. But perhaps the biggest advantage will be for IT. With Smart Reporting, the Egnyte systems can deliver detailed information about file use and file storage so companies can optimize their infrastructures to save money and improve performance. In the future, Content Intelligence could expand to capture more detailed information about data being stored to support more sophisticated analytics, drive more detailed reporting, etc.
Due partly to the number of consumer-grade solutions in this space, Egnyte has always felt they needed to emphasize how their product better fits an enterprise use case. But with the rise of ‘shadow IT’ – the practice of employees setting up their own cloud accounts that end up hosting corporate data – IT needs to make sure the solutions they deploy work for the end users as well. File sync and share is one of the biggest culprits in this area.
Users want everything available, everywhere in a simple platform that integrates with the applications they use – Google Apps, MS Office, etc. On the other hand, IT wants everything controlled in an efficient, cost-effective solution that doesn’t add complexity and integrates with their existing infrastructure. Egnyte has been able to satisfy both of these divergent sets of requirements and is now taking a next step, so to speak.
Egnyte is leveraging their architecture’s existing ability to capture more metadata, and betting that both end users and IT will see the advantages this can bring. Content Intelligence is the first step, but there is more in the works.