Cloud file-sharing options popping up on both sides of the firewall

File sharing is becoming an option inside the firewall with cloud storage vendors, and with dedicated online-synching services outside the firewall.

Enterprises are finding more options for storing and sharing files on mobile devices in the cloud. Besides dozens of online file-sharing services offering the capability, other vendors are adding file sharing for devices to their cloud storage products.

Scality and Nasuni Corp. are two of the latest vendors to deliver offerings for mobile access to cloud-based storage to help organizations keep up with demand from employees to view, share and collaborate on files from any mobile device and location.

Nasuni and Scality join a list of more than 30 vendors competing to store files online. Most of the vendors in the market are dedicated cloud file-sharing and synching services, such as Box, Dropbox, Egnyte and SugarSync, that let customers access data from iPad, tablets, phones and PCs. But unlike most consumer cloud file-sharing companies, Scality and Nasuni are delivering mobile access to cloud-based storage that resides behind the firewall. Putting files behind firewalls allows managers to control access and permissions to the data.

Last month, Scality added Sync-n-Share to its object-based software that powers private and public clouds, while Nasuni added the ability to access data from mobile devices to its cloud-based network attached storage.

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Scality Sync-n-Share comprises client software, hardware and back-end object storage. It creates a secure local file storage area on the user’s hard drive, called a Vault, where files on users’ mobile devices are synchronized with their cloud storage account. The Vault can be shared any of the user’s colleagues who need to see the same files and folders. Individuals can get different access rights to data. Sync-n-Share works with Mac and PC platforms, along with mobile platforms such as Android, Blackberry, iOS, Symbian and Windows phone.

Sync-n-Share uses Nomadesk client software, and is integrated with Scality Ring Organic Storage infrastructure for public or private clouds.

Nasuni’s on-premises storage controllers collect and encrypt data behind the enterprise’s firewall and then send the data up to the cloud, either Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) or Microsoft Windows Azure. Its new functionality is offered via the HTTPS protocol, so it looks no different to IT managers as a CIFS file share, said Nasuni CEO Andres Rodriguez. Users are authenticated through Active Directory, giving IT departments the ability to control data flow to the individual device level, and to segment which data sets are available to which groups of employees.

“You don’t have to move the data to a new place. It’s just accessed from a different protocol,” Rodriguez said. “Companies like Dropbox say mobile access should be a separate application and users should decide who accesses the data. The user is the center of control for all information. With Nasuni, Active Directory decides. The data is going to have boundaries.”

“Dropbox is a public solution and some want a private solution, so IT controls [data access]," said Scality CEO Jerome Lecat. "This is the only difference [between Sync-n-Share and Dropbox].”

Terri McClure, a senior analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group, said Scality and Nasuni are catering to enterprise administrators who want to control and manage the data flow to mobile devices. Customers who use dedicated online file services, such as Egnyte and Dropbox, don't want the added responsibility of managing and controlling data on mobile devices and would rather keep those capabilities outside the firewall.

“There are two ends of the spectrum out there,” McClure said.

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