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EMC brings Syncplicity file syncing, collaboration to Isilon, Atmos

EMC offers its file syncing Syncplicity service with its Isilon scale-out NAS and Atmos object storage systems.

EMC Corp. today said it will combine Syncplicity's cloud-based online file sharing and collaboration service with its EMC Isilon scale-out NAS and EMC Atmos object-based storage.

Using the file syncing Syncplicity service with those storage platforms gives customers the option of sharing and syncing files on-premises in a private cloud instead of sending data off to a public cloud.

The Syncplicity option for Isilon and Atmos is in beta, with general availability expected around the end of March. Syncplicity for Atmos and Syncplicity for Isilon have separate subscription licenses. The price is $15 per seat per month.

EMC acquired Syncplicity last May for an undisclosed price. At the time, Syncplicity was one of more than 30 online file syncing and collaboration services on the market.

Offering Syncplicity software as an add-on application to on-premises storage lets IT departments maintain control of the data that is downloaded onto employees' smartphones, iPads, PCs and tablets.

Brian Cox, senior director of product marketing at EMC Isilon, said many customers don't want to send all this data off to a public cloud. That is particularly true of government agencies and other companies with strict compliance regulations.

"We have customers that say, 'We want the collaboration, but until we have control, we can't stomach it.' This is a way of providing peace of mind," Cox said. "Atmos is geared for geographically dispersed files. Isilon is optimized for large-scale on-premises storage in a single site. This is an add-on option to what Syncplicity does in the cloud."

Atmos is used by cloud service providers and enterprises that want to build private storage clouds. Syncplicity Atmos provides file sharing and collaboration for geographically dispersed data in large, multisite, multi-tenant environments.

Syncplicity consists of three pieces: a client layer on the device, an orchestration layer that resides on a back-end server in the cloud, and a storage and compute layer. Syncplicity will manage the orchestration layer, with the storage-compute piece residing on a virtual machine running alongside the Isilon and Atmos systems.

EMC executives expect to add the Sycnplicity file syncing option to more EMC products. Unified storage platform VNX would be an obvious candidate. Cox said Isilon was a better fit as the first EMC file-based platform with the Syncplicity option because it is used on a much higher scale for files: Customers typically start at 50 TB and run into petabytes, while VNX systems usually store less than 50 TB of file data.

In late 2012, EMC integrated Syncplicity's sharing and syncing capabilities with its Documentum content management software platform.

"This is the beginning of the convergence of the cloud, mobility devices and enterprises," said Ben Woo, managing director at analyst firm Neuralytix Inc. "With this file sharing capability, we don't just capture the data, but we also can track the activity of the data stored. For the first time, we can capture all the changes that are going on."

Terri McClure, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), said companies are looking for standards-based online file sharing, particularly products with strong security features. She said the most traction has been for online file sharing in the public cloud, while EMC's new offering is a private cloud-based solution.

"IT has to get behind shadow IT," McClure said. "It's just becoming a major problem. It's only a matter of time until there is a security breach. This is the first time a major vendor is providing an end-to-end, highly scalable solution that supports mobile users behind the firewall."

Smaller vendors, including cloud NAS vendor Nasuni and object-storage startup Scality, added options for providing mobile access to cloud-based storage residing behind the firewall in 2012.

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