The Most Popular Enterprise Sync and Share Product Might Surprise You

451 Research released a report this week with details on the enterprise sync and share market and what they found may surprise you. It certainly surprised me. That’s because the most popular sync and share tool in the enterprise today is not Box or even Microsoft OneDrive. It’s Dropbox, the cloud service IT supposedly loves to hate.

The report, which surveyed over 1000 IT pros in October and asked them about the sync and share tools in use in their companies, found that Dropbox was the enterprise leader by far with more than 40 percent of responders saying their companies used that. The next in line was OneDrive with just over 25 percent followed by Google in third with over 20 percent and Box in fourth with just under 15 percent. All the rest had less than 10 percent.

451 Research Enterprise Sync and Share Market Share Graph

What’s more, just 18 percent of those surveyed currently pay for an enterprise sync and share product. It’s hard to know what this all means exactly, except that as the report indicated, we are still (surprisingly) in the very early days for this market and there is a lot of room for all the players to grow.

451 Research paying customers in EFSS market

Alan Pelz-Sharpe, one of the authors of the study told me that Dropbox comes up all the time when he talks to clients. “Dropbox comes up in virtually every discussion we have with buyers.  To be honest with you my opinion is that firms are often consolidating on whichever is the most popular being used in their enterprise – its a pragmatic approach. If you have 5,000 active Dropbox accounts and  would love them to move to your preferred enterprise class alternative – that’s a huge change management issue,” he said.

451 Research actually believes that as bigger companies turn their attention to this technology, customers will tend to focus on the more expensive and established enterprise players like EMC, OpenText and Citrix –in other words, the usual enterprise suspects and not the cloud upstarts.

In fact, Pelz-Sharpe believes that the enterprise stalwarts who have been slow to react to this market may eventually be the big winners even though data shows they are far back in the pack at the moment. “Footprint does not equal revenue,” he said. What he means is that the traditional enterprise vendors tend to charge more than the newer players and that’s translating into more money for them even though they have a substantially smaller marketshare today.

He added, “I think the survey data tells us a few things. It’s early days and this stuff is just starting to really play out in the enterprise, few folks have a ’strategy’ as such and brand visibility and strength is very important (Google, Dropbox etc). Also, I expect EMC Syncplicity and some true enterprise options to make good traction over the coming year and this space to look very different indeed in 18 months.”

It’s worth noting, however that the report acknowledges that overall, most companies have no sense of what people are actually using outside of the IT (known as Shadow IT) and this could be skewing the numbers down because it’s looking strictly at the IT perspective –and they clearly have lost control to a large extent of what people are using.

Sharpe says that, regardless, we are in the early days of this market and it’s going to shift dramatically over time. “Bottom line is these are both early stage markets – in 5 years time they will likely look very different indeed.  But as of right now, too much of the information we are all getting, comes from vendors themselves, so it’s important to now validate a lot of these claims.”

He’s right of course. It is, but it’s also important to ask the right questions and to ask the right people and I’m not sure IT is the place to find all of the answers to these questions right now, especially in regards to the cloud upstarts.

At the same time, this is an area that calls for data because as the report aptly points out, this is a market that has received a fair amount of hype and we can’t just take the vendor’s word for marketshare. This report is a start, but it’s clear that we have a long way to go before we build a true picture of what’s happening here.

Graphs courtesy of 451 Research. Used by permission.