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Consumer Cloud File Sharing Steadily Edging Into Enterprise Space

Most professionals are familiar with the pain trying to access and share company files outside of the organization (and sometimes even internally), saddled as they are by antiquated company IT security and intellectual property policies. It’s even worse for the mobile warrior who needs an instant, convenient access to their documents without jumping through multiple technology hoops – such as using VPN to tunnel into their company systems.

It’s no wonder that consumer-level cloud file storage and sharing solutions – such as Dropbox, Box or even YouSendIt – have been widely employed in the office by the more tech-savvy professionals, whether it’s with or without their IT departments’ knowledge. But using public cloud services can bring a whole host of new problems, especially coupled with the increasing trend of BYOD (bring your own device) in offices.

Enterprises accept that – security concerns aside – such services can improve efficiency and productivity in the workplace, and are looking for solutions that can provide similar functionality without compromising on security. Solution providers are beginning to wake up to this new reality – Hitachi Data Systems last night announced its Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) Anywhere, an integrated file sync and share solution built atop its HCP architecture for enterprises. This solution allows users to securely access data and collaborate on any device (personal, corporate, desktop, and/or mobile) from any location, adding secure mobility to the enterprise.

HCP Anywhere, built for the enterprise, essentially borrows the best functionality of consumer grade file-sharing services, yet maintains control and security through encryption protocols, data transfer audit trials, key ownership and terms of service. “Our unique approach to cloud allows our customers to choose the best possible solutions to address their needs, at their own pace, and in a way that makes sense for their business,” explains John Mansfield, executive vice president, Global Solutions Strategy and Development, Hitachi Data Systems. “Our cloud portfolio does more than just solve the challenges customers face today – it sets them up for what is coming next. Trends like big data, bring your own device, next-generation file services, secure clouds, distributed IT, and metadata-driven automation, management and analytics are quickly becoming pervasive.”

“The products and services we are announcing allow enterprise organizations to use cloud and file sharing in ways that were never before possible. It is with these new offerings that customers can further innovate with information as the IT industry continues to evolve,” he adds.

Analysts seem to agree that consumer file-sharing style functionality is set to penetrate the enterprise and enterprise mobile space. “Though consumer file sync and share options have been available for some time, options for the enterprise are still emerging,” says Terri McClure, senior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). “With this new cloud package, HDS is leveraging its enterprise solution provider strengths at the core and has done a nice job providing a consumer-like experience at the edge. Its new HCP Anywhere application and platform should be particularly appealing to security-conscious end users who need to lock down access to business data and leverage additional cloud capabilities and support to satisfy end user requirements for data access across multiple devices.”

So far the HCP Anywhere allows file sharing through web browser clients as well as an iOS application, but an Android version is in the works that should be out within a quarter. HDS spokepeople have been quick to explain that Anywhere can’t stop a determined employee from trying to steal or contaminate data, but it’s still the best compromise between functionality and security so far.

It’s early days yet, but it’ll be interesting to see how such file-sharing services can be integrated with enterprise-level instant messaging clients.

Daniel Goh is the founder and chief editor of Young | Upstarts, as well as an F&B entrepreneur. Daniel has a background in public relations, and is interested in issues in entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, public relations and the online space. He can be reached at daniel [at] youngupstarts [dot] com.

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