Would-be Box killers queue up new file share features and functions

cloud storage

When it comes to enterprise-focused file sharing, storage and sync services, Box leads the pack in mindshare with 14 million users claimed. But that hasn’t stopped would-be Box killers from pouring into the market. This week, a couple of them are launching new services that aim to give Box a run for its money.

Accellion kitepoint lets data stay where it is

Accellion, for example, says it will bring universal mobile access to your data and content with kitepoint, now in beta. The first iteration of the service will let customers access their Microsoft Sharepoint files from iOS or Android devices (Windows Phone support will come, according to VP of product Jon Pincus.) There’s big pent-up demand for elegant mobile access to SharePoint, said Terri McClure, senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group. Accellion will add support for other Windows file systems and more enterprise content management (ECM) systems starting next year.

While Box’s focus is to take all user files and duplicate them into Box’s content repository, the goal here is to let files stay where they are but provide mobile access to them, Pincus said.

InfraScale targets micro businesses

Second, InfraScale says its new FileLocker service offers more secure cloud sync-and storage than Box or Dropbox, the consumer-focused cloud storage service with more than 50 million users.

Some cloud-based services use deduplication on the back end to sweat the data down to size and save on storage costs. The downside of that is that dedupe only works on unencrypted files, so if the files come in encrypted, they have to be de-encrypted, deduped and then re-encrypted. That gap in coverage poses a possible security vulnerability, according to InfraScale CEO Ken Shaw Jr. Dedupe thus helps the storage vendor but doesn’t really add customer value, he said.

(For the record, a spokesman for Los Altos, Calif.-based Box said the company does not dedupe user data.) InfraScale’s service is free for up to five employees.

Lots of offerings …

There are lots of players vying for a piece of this pie. SugarSync is launching the beta of its updated cloud-based  file-share and sync service  with updated user interface and other perks  here. OwnCloud, an open-source solution, runs on premises but also stores user files in IT’s cloud of choice, and just updated the mobile apps that access its service. OwnCloud also integrates with the customer’s existing active directory, security and intrusion detection systems. And, LogMeIn, the company behind the popular easy-to-use web conferencing service, put its “Cubby” cloud storage service into public beta last week. Other entrants include Egnyte, GroupLogic, SurDoc, Intralinks, YouSendIt (see disclosure below). This is a very, very crowded market.

“We’re still in the land grab stage,” said ESG’s McClure. Right now it’s unclear if any of the companies are turning a profit, but some including Accellion and Box are generating revenue. “At this stage, it’s more important for them to have business customers than turn a profit,” she said.

 … contend for an unsized market

One concern for these scrappy companies going forward is the fact that they not only face each other but will increasingly compete with the Goliaths of the industry in Microsoft SkyDrive, Google Drive and Apple iCloud. Salesforce.com which owns a stake in Box, is also building its own internal — and competitive — Chatterbox product.

Perhaps the biggest question here is just how big the overall pie is. IDC said cloud file sharing and collaboration services generated about $213.5 million in revenue last year, up 15.8 percent from the previous year, but still a fairly small number iven all the vendors jumping in. Interestingly the company has no plans to forecast the market size this year, until it grows and more companies jump in, an IDC spokesman said.

Disclosure: YouSendIt is backed by Alloy Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media.

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