Syncplicity Looks to Upend File-Server Management

by Kenneth Corbin

Startup seeks to help businesses plug into the cloud to adapt to new apps and proliferation of mobile devices amid dramatic shifts in how people work.

The traditional, on-premises file server has long been a backbone of corporate IT operations. However, in this era of workers accessing documents from an array of applications, devices and locations, is it time for a better mousetrap?

Syncplicity, a startup built around the promise of cloud-based file management, would answer in the affirmative.

"All companies have some form of file management solution from the simple to the sophisticated, the vast majority being built around on-premise file servers," said Leonard Chung, one of Syncplicity's co-founders and its chief product strategist.

"The level of satisfaction with these solutions among both end users and IT," Chung added, "is often low. These premise solutions do not meet all the needs of an increasingly mobile workforce."

Syncplicity touts its technology as a solution to the collaboration issues that arise when users are accessing and sharing files from PCs, Macs and mobile devices across non-traditional environments, such as cloud apps or a Web browser.

The firm's file-management product enables businesses to continue working with their existing file structure but provides a level of "anywhere" access with real-time synching, one-click sharing, access to older versions of documents and automatic back-up and instant restore.

One of the chief pain points for corporate IT managers that Syncplicity looks to address is the challenge of maintaining data security and policy compliance while adapting to workers' growing expectations of being able to work remotely and tap into new cloud apps such as Salesforce and Google Docs. Syncplicity's IT Administration Console provides a centralized environment for provisioning and setting permissions, inviting the integration of Microsoft's SharePoint or other existing file servers into the unified solution.

"With Syncplicity, IT has one place to set file management and user policies to secure and monitor corporate data across all file stores and users, inside and outside of the corporate network," Chung said.

Chung and fellow co-founder Ondrej Hrebicek launched Syncplicity in 2008 with backing from True Ventures. Their idea, Chung explained, was that traditional, on-premises file management solutions were falling out of step with the way that IT was evolving. Specifically, the proliferation of new devices and the rapid spread of cloud computing were taking shape as supremely disruptive forces that called for a re-architected approach to file management, one built around the cloud and the presumption that "the Internet is the de facto corporate network," as Chung put it.

"The results are tangible," he said. Syncplicity claims that its customers enjoy as much as a 75 percent reduction in support tickets following deployment. The issues that Syncplicity's solution aims to address are varied, ranging from problems with access to lost files, file sharing to recovering and wiping data that gets lost when a laptop or other device is lost or stolen.

Syncplicity said about 60 percent of its customers deploy the solution to replace an existing file-management apparatus, while the others use it to harmonize their file-management systems and expand coverage to the cloud and mobile environments. The company said that customers who use Syncplicity's technology to replace file servers have reported cost savings in the range of 65 percent to 70 percent.

But it's not always to get the word out.

"There is a lot of noise in our space," Chung said, admitting that despite the some 25,000 customers that Syncplicity has signed up, "we don't have a lot of brand recognition yet." He explained that cloud-based file management is still a relatively young segment of IT, and prospective customers continue to express concerns about security, file synching and other issues. That tasks Syncplicity with working to increase awareness of the cost savings and technological capabilities that its solution offers, while at the same time channeling greater resources to its sales and marketing operations as it works to build its brand.

Security is a key selling point. A perennial challenge for cloud vendors looking to disrupt and replace traditional enterprise IT technology, security is at the core of Syncplicity's solution. To begin with, data in the company's virtual private cloud resides in quadruplicate across three data centers. Syncplicity also adheres to the 256-bit AES military-grade encryption standard and SAS 70 compliance in its data hosting centers.

Syncplicity offers individual or business accounts billed on a monthly or annual subscription basis. For businesses, the firm offers a fully functioning one-month trial for up to 25 users.

Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects for more than four years, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. He can be found on LinkedIn here


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This article was originally published on Wednesday Sep 7th 2011
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