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Syncplicity customers hope for enterprise cloud file sharing features from EMC

Syncplicity customers say they welcome EMC’s acquisition of the online file sharing vendor, although they’re watching EMC’s pricing plans.

Syncplicity customers greeted the news of EMC’s acquisition of the cloud file management company with the expectation that the product will receive more enterprise-level features.

EMC entered the online file sharing market by announcing the Syncplicity acquisition Monday at the end of the opening day of the annual EMC conference in Las Vegas. The purchase price for the cloud file sharing company was small enough that EMC did not have to disclose it.

“We’ve talked about this internally and one thing we can be positive about is the product will take on a more mature feel to it,” said Brandon Gage, senior vice president of technology at Newport Beach, Calif.-based Capital Financial Advisors LLC, a Syncplicity customer. “We are expecting a more mature roadmap coming out from a mature company. I expect the product will be more a la carte and it will get broader so we can pick and choose what we need.”

Gage said he was pleased to hear that EMC plans to keep the Syncplicity team intact, although he expressed concern that EMC may raise pricing and that the product will remain stagnant as part of a giant company. Capital Financial Advisors puts a little more than 3 TB of file data into a private cloud serviced by Syncplicity. Over a six-month period last year, Capital phased out 10 Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. file servers and moved data for more than 250 employees to the Syncplicity online file sharing service. Gage said the move reduced file sharing costs by 65% to 75%.

“We are also going to keep an eye on the subscription pricing,” Gage said.

Robert Metz, CTO at Hearthstone, a Los Angeles-based financial firm, said he expects EMC to develop the product with more enterprise-level features. He said that would benefit even a small-to-medium size (SMB) business like Hearthstone, which has offices in Chicago, San Diego and San Francisco.

Hearthstone puts a quarter of its monthly file shares through Syncplicity online file sharing services. The firm initially moved to Syncplicity as part of its disaster recovery plan, but found it easier to accomplish cloud file sharing than to move items through virtual private networks (VPNs).

Both Hearthstone and Capital Financial Advisors highlighted Syncplicity’s focus on security. The company’s product is SAS 70/SSAE 16 compliant, which sets vigorous auditing security standards for data centers.

“They are very security conscious,” Gage said. “They have a huge regard for security. It was apparent early on their goal was not to be a free share cloud service. Their goal was to have strict access by groups.”

EMC wasted no time pushing its new cloud file-sharing product, setting up a Syncplicity station on the show floor at EMC World offering a 90-day free trial.

“I think EMC wants to accelerate growth and I don’t see much risk in the near future in terms of price but you never know,” said Terri McClure, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), “This will take time to play out. SMB is a key segment but I expect this will open up enterprise routes for the Syncplicity product, since that is where Documentum products are well adopted.”

The online file sharing market was largely fueled by employees, rather than IT personnel, so they could access file data from any mobile device. The privately-held Syncplicity’s cloud-based file management lets enterprise users securely access and synchronize files and use applications on various devices, particularly for mobile devices. EMC will bring Syncplicity into its Information Intelligence Group portfolio, and plans to combine Syncplicity's file synchronization and sharing features with the governance capabilities of its Documentum software.

According to an ESG market landscape report on file sharing and collaboration in the enterprise published in December 2011, the main benefits of online file sharing services are ease of use, the ability to support any endpoint device and not having to log into a VPN for a shared device.

Citrix ShareFile and Egnyte are considered Syncplicity’s main competitor because they also focus more on enterprise features than most of the file sharing products.

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