Egnyte: A Different Perspective Than Box About The Cloud And All That Data

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Box gives a clear perspective about the approach to its business — build a best of breed service for managing all those files in the cloud.

Egnyte takes a different approach to file management. The company has developed a cloud file server that syncs with any device managed by IT. Files are available offline and online for people to access from anywhere they may be.

In an email interview last week, I asked Egnyte CEO Vineet Jain about the distinctions about his company’s service compared to the likes of Box. His perspectives paint a picture that is less about the cloud and more about connecting data from any end-point in the enterprise.

The contrast is relevant considering that this past week, Box hosted Boxworks, its annual event. Throughout the week, the Box team showed its deep focus on collaboration, a hallmark of its service. You can  now embed apps into Box, create documents, edit, and uses gestures such as the ability to “like,”  a file. The service uses collaboration features as a way to extend its service. Box has partnerships with all the hotshots of the new enterprise battalion: Zendesk, Badgeville, DocuSign — the list goes on.

Jain said Egnyte has more of a focus on giving IT a choice. This week the company announced partnerships with NetApp, IBM and Synology.

This reaffirms our belief that the enterprise is all about cloud enabling their existing storage strategy, not making the cloud their storage strategy.

Egnyte wants to connect the enterprise’s every endpoint to the cloud. That means big box storage arrays, PCs, laptops and mobile devices. He says this differs from Box in several ways.

Jain:

Box has focused on a cloud only collaboration approach, and that’s not what we’ve done. We focus on providing not just a simple file sharing solution but an infrastructure solution for Enterprise IT and Business users that is solving a problem that is deeper than just how one person shares a file. Fundamentally, it’s a file sharing infrastructure problem, and that’s why our approach is all about making sure enterprises leverage the cloud where it makes sense, while cloud enabling their storage devices, allowing them to always maintain ultimate control of their data. We believe we’ve found the balance between usability for end users, and the control and security that IT require. Unlike Box, with its consumer roots, we’ve been about IT from day one, which means a technically superior product that answers the complicated IT needs from auditability to sub folder syncing/permissions to integration key standards like Active Directly, LDAP, SAML to name just a few.

The Mobile Difference

Box gets a lot of attention for its mobile strategy. Its file management service extends across iPads, iPhones, Android tablets and phones.  The Box site lists apps for Blackberry , WebOS and Windows. Third-parties have built multiple apps for all of these devices. Through APIs that boost a bustling app ecosystem — Box has struck a deep vein with developers that has helped the company gain wide adoption.  The company now has 14 million users and 140,000 businesses using the service, representing 92 percent of the Fortune 500. Its success is evident in the steps it has to take to keep its service optimized. Last month the company announced Box Accelerator, which uses intelligent routing technology and a network of data centers around the world to speed upload times. The service will get extended to its mobile apps, which will give the company another advantage for customers to use its service. It also has plans to add an API to the Box Acccelerator.

In contrast,  Egnyte believes proper file management needs its own infrastructure:

Enterprises need to deal with many locations, many files, many users and many devices, to solve that problem, they need to develop an infrastructure that will sync all of these things together seamlessly, so the user never feels any difference. Cloud only approach will always present a choke point.

Jain wavers a bit when he talks about the company’s focus on the mobile market. He dodged a questions about working with developers. He instead says the company has an approach that spans partnerships in mobile, collaboration, security and storage to develop a product that suits the end-user and IT.

Okay – I get this approach. It’s the hybrid model. It leverages the existing investments that IT has made in expensive hardware over the years. IT can’t just throw away these storage arrays. It’s a sound approach but in comparison to Box it does not have the energy that comes with opening a platform to developers and building out an optimized data network. Box is growing fast through developing best of breed apps and  partnering with innovators and established vendors such as Jive Software and SAP. Egnyte is banking on the billions invested by IT in storage systems. It’s not that one approach is better than another. It’s more about what will provide customers with what they need to innovate and become leaders in their own market categories.