Technology revolutions rarely happen at random. In almost every case, there is at least one practical application that all development centers on. After all, if expensive new gear has no clear benefit other than to re-imagine the same old state of affairs, it hardly qualifies as revolutionary.
In the current climate, it can arguably be stated that both the cloud and mobile technology are geared toward file sharing. It's no secret that top enterprise executives are looking at the ability to coordinate data across varied platforms for the benefit of multiple users as one of the top productivity drivers of the decade.
To date, much of the file-sharing services have come from the cloud. This is probably the most sensible way to get started because the cloud offers the kind of low-cost, highly scalable infrastructure needed to support large numbers of users and highly complex collaborative environments. It's the main reason companies like Box, and now even Salesforce, have taken the lead in providing file-sharing services to both consumers and enterprises. But this has also raised some concerns in the IT suite that users could be placing company data at risk by tapping into public-sharing services without fully vetting their security capabilities.
And with established IT vendors like VMware and Citrix said to be hot on the trail of a killer file-sharing service for enterprises, a plethora of small firms are teaming up to get there first. A case in point is the recent venture between SkyDox and Workshare, aimed at building a cloud-based solution that combines file-sharing and synchronization with document collaboration. The companies have vowed to release a beta version of a system that is both enterprise-friendly and policy-based within 90 days.
But while experts can argue day and night about the relative security benefits and perils of the cloud, the fact is that many organizations are just as eager to bring file-sharing in house to serve both the traditional enterprise and newly established mobile infrastructures. Egnyte is hoping to meet that need with the new EgnytePlus platform, which aims to draw key vendors into an end-to-end file-sharing environment. The company has already certified a number of infrastructure components, including IBM's N- and DS-Series storage products, NetApp's FAS platform and the ReadyNAS, ReadyDATA and Synology systems from Netgear. The EgnytePlus system itself utilized hybrid cloud infrastructure to build various tiers for sharing, replication, archiving and mobile access to provide anywhere/any device uninterruptible file access, real-time collaboration and automated file sync, backup and replication.
Other combinations are coming through outright mergers and acquisitions. Disaster recovery firm Acronis just bought out GroupLogic with aims to create a highly distributed collaboration architecture that can withstand significant service disruptions. By adding file-sharing and sync capabilities, Acronis gains the ability to ensure broad data availability for both stationary and mobile users, with the side benefit of GroupLogic bringing in support for Apple devices.
File sharing and collaboration is a perfect example of IT getting swept up in technology development rather than leading it. New generations of users look at enterprise icons like the PC and email and consider them quaint, almost something from the horse-and-buggy era.
But that doesn't mean the enterprise won't have a role to play as these new data environments unfold. Indeed, mobile systems and consumer technologies may have ushered in the collaboration age, but IT is charged with making it all work on an organizational level.