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Ctera 5 adds new interface, broadens support for sync and share

The latest Ctera version has a redesigned user interface, more security, and support for the Ctera Cloud Gateway and virtual desktop infrastructure.

Ctera Networks today redesigned its enterprise file sync-and-share platform, giving it a new user interface while adding support for more platforms, devices and cloud services.

The interface in Ctera 5 interface simplifies sync, share and backup of files to the cloud or on-premises storage. The vendor also integrated the Ctera Portal that delivers data services with the Ctera Cloud Storage Gateway, allowing customers to pin user and project data to gateways in remote offices.

The release comes nearly two years after Ctera launched Version 4, and broadly expands the tools the file-sync platform supports. Ctera added a WebDAV connector for virtual desktop infrastructures, allowing customers to store user documents directly into Ctera and any object storage. That enables customers to sync files across physical and virtual devices. The new version also adds support for Windows Mobile Phone.

The new Ctera interface includes an online viewer of more than 50 file types, including office and text files, HTML web formats, DICOM medical images, CAD files and email. Users can sync, share and back up files, and see all shared files from one pane.

All files to be synchronized to the cloud are found in a My Files folder. Users can drag and drop files to share and see all files that others have shared. They can also set file permissions for others. Users can edit documents in place through Windows and Google Chrome browsers, and schedule folder and file backups to maintain original copies of files. Backups move files to the cloud but do not sync them.

Ctera product manager Saimon Michelson said an appealing interface is key to Ctera's strategy for making the product engaging to users and IT admins. "We are developing this product for two personas: the end user and the IT administrator," he said. "You have to provide the end user with a similar experience as a consumer product, and you have to maintain security and governance for an IT administrator. IT can't have 100% governance unless it has 100% adoption of the product's services."

On the admin side, Ctera 5 adds support for data loss prevention, malware and anti-virus software; the ability to add file-sharing policies by user, group, type or size; and single sign-on. Ctera now supports Microsoft Hyper-V and KVM hypervisors, Microsoft Azure and IBM SoftLayer clouds (it already supported Amazon Web Services), and NetApp, Hewlett-Packard and HGST on-premises storage.

The Ctera Portal database supports point-in-time recovery and replication.

George Crump, president and founder of IT analyst firm Storage Switzerland, said Ctera 5 is an example of the way file sync and endpoint backup products are coming together.

"I don't know if there will be a standalone file sync-and-share solution in another year," Crump said. "Vendors are doing more than just file sync and share. They do endpoint data protection and data loss and leakage prevention.

"Vendors focused on endpoint protection like Druva, and vendors focused on enterprise sync and share will end up with the exact same product in a year or two," he added. "Instead of having cloud backup or enterprise file sync and share, you may have just one thing for both."

Crump said one feature that stands out in the latest version of the Ctera product is the WebDAV connector for virtual desktops. "A lot of virtual desktop users will be depending on their tablets or smartphones, so the ability to have data you create on a virtual desktop immediately available in the cloud and accessible on a tablet can be a big deal," he said.

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