BACKGROUND IMAGE: iSTOCK/GETTY IMAGES
NetApp Inc. is putting technology from its February ionGrid acquisition to use in an application that lets users securely access data stored on NetApp storage systems through endpoint devices. The vendor bills its NetApp Connect application as a way to provide bring-your-own-device security without the use of cloud file-sharing products.
NetApp Connect lets users download, edit and share files on mobile devices. The software is integrated with NetApp's Data Ontap operating system, but runs on a mobile device to authenticate users and grant access to file shares.
Connect allows employees to access corporate data without using a VPN, cellular connection or Wi-Fi, said Nick Triantos, NetApp's senior director of mobile software and former CEO of ionGrid. Unlike online storage and file synchronization software from such vendors as Dropbox and Box, NetApp Connect doesn't store data in the cloud. The software is based on Stratos ionGrid's flagship application developed for bring-your-own-device security.
Employees can share and collaborate through Microsoft SharePoint or intranet applications. IT administrators maintain control via Active Directory.
"It's for companies that don't want to throw out their existing infrastructure," Triantos said. "The challenge when companies move to iCloud or Dropbox is that there are tradeoffs to security. Also, if data is moved out to the cloud, all the workflows have to change."
NetApp is offering Connect as a license option. It's available as a download from the Apple App Store and supports iOS devices, but NetApp plans to make it available for other mobile devices.
Jorge Pazos, chief information officer for the city of Melrose, Mass., said his team has done a proof of concept of NetApp Connect for the city's school district, which has 3,700 students and hundreds of staffers. The city, which uses two NetApp FAS2240 filers, will install the product for school staff, then gradually expand it for students, he said.
"We have a lot of teachers using Dropbox and Google Drive," Pazos said. "We have no idea what they are doing. They can be putting a student picture and their name on a paper or blog, which is against our policy without approval. There is a lot of file sharing going on, and we have no idea if it's meeting compliance [regulations]. This product is a good front-end snap-on that can access files, and we don't have to add another management layer."