NTP Software taps into cloud for secure file management

NTP Software branches into secure file management, but says its Universal File Access technology isn't a sync-and-share service.

File data management vendor NTP Software today launched Universal File Access technology designed to secure data on endpoint devices maintained by a corporation's users.

Universal File Access (UFA) integrates with Microsoft Active Directory though the cloud to provide secure file management of information that belongs to the company but resides on users' devices. It is aimed at helping corporate IT manage assets in this age of bring your own device (BYOD). The idea is to keep data on these devices behind the corporate firewall, and to give IT administrators control over permissions and data flow through Active Directory.

"Companies are under pressure to expand into BYOD," NTP Software CEO Bruce Backa said. "When we look at corporate file data, we view this more [as] capture-and-secure data rather than sync-and-share. Our software captures data and removes it from the device immediately. If you create corporate IP, the last thing you want to do is spread it around."

NTP Software's UFA consists of three parts: Cloud Connector, BYOD Manager and BYOD Suite. The Cloud Connector runs on a virtual machine (VM) in the data center and communicates with either the Microsoft Windows Azure public cloud or a company's private cloud. Backa said NTP Software will add support for other public clouds.

The BYOD Manager resides on a VM that runs in the cloud provider and handles authentication, manages the connection, and formats the individual application on each mobile device. It also provides flexible caching options, functions as a firewall, and enforces the Active Directory policies for security.

The Cloud Connector takes data from the storage filer and hands it to the BYOD Manager, which sends it back to the data center.

"We use the cloud as a transport rather than a repository," Backa said.

Backa said after data is returned to the data center, "it is immediately recognized as a corporate asset. So it becomes a secure corporate asset as opposed to something you share with ten of your friends."

The BYOD Suite is the client software for endpoint devices. It allows users to upload and delete data and enables secure file management by allowing admins to upload and delete data and wipe the device if it is stolen or lost.

Terri McClure, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said NTP uses its storage resource management (SRM) capabilities to differentiate its product from popular online file-sharing vendors such as Box and Dropbox.

"They have knowledge of customer files because they do SRM," McClure said of NTP. "What they are doing is being an information broker in the cloud that coordinates mobile access to corporate data. You get files via a connection remotely from devices, but data does not live on your mobile devices. In time, they will have a sync of individual files or folders, which is important for marketing and sales. But this is more of an access solution from mobile devices."

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