Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Egnyte Adds PRISM Protection to Its Enterprise Hybrid Cloud Service

egnyte_diagramWhile Egnyte does enterprise-focused file sharing and collaboration — comparable in some aspects to other cloud companies like, for instance, Box — it does it in a way that combines the best aspects of access to the cloud with the best aspects of running your own systems on premise. In short, it’s a hybrid. Or as CEO Vineet Jain likes to say: “The cloud is not enough.”

As convenient as the cloud can be, there’s a lot of risk associated with letting sensitive files go outside the corporate firewall and reside on servers operated by someone else. Those files are often the most sensitive things a company has: Lists of customers, deal documents, design drawings. The fundamental difference Egnyte touts is that you get the same file-sharing and syncing that you would with an all-cloud service, but with an on-premise component added to speed things up and keep running in the event that the cloud portion fails.

Today Egnyte launched a new service it calls Storage Connect. The idea is that all those sensitive files can be as readily shared as they would be on a cloud service, but they never leave the corporate network. They’re accessible from an iPad or a smartphone or any computer, but protected. Corporate IT admins can also maintain a degree of control, by setting access and sharing credentials.

“We recognized that about 90 percent of a company’s files are still held behind the firewall,” Jain told me today. “Not everything belongs in the cloud, and not everything belongs on-premise.”

He went on to characterize three types of files: Green, yellow and red. Green files are the ones that can be readily shared on the cloud because if they were compromised it would be no big deal. Yellow files are the ones that can only be shared between employees on a limited basis, and red files are the sensitive ones that should really stay behind the firewall. The idea with Storage Connect is make them all readily as shareable in a single application environment, irrespective of where they happen to be physically stored.

Alongside Storage Connect, the company announced what it calls its PRISM Protection program. Riding on the wave of anxiety about the National Security Agency and its recently revealed surveillance activities, the program surveys and detects cases where employees are using less secure cloud service to share documents and files that might open up the possibility of government monitoring. The service includes a free assessment and five free licenses to Egnyte, and a plan to migrate whatever sharing services are in place to Egnyte.

Cloud services are subject to government disclosure orders. Companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Google and others are routinely hit with government requests under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and while they often try to push back against them, the law as written requires them to comply.

The way Egnyte sees it, if the files never reside anywhere but your own infrastructure, then the government will have to ask you directly if it wants to see something. It’s not an impermeable argument, but logically sound to a point. Either way, since the announcement today, signups for Egnyte have ticked up, Jain said.

When I last checked in with Jain, Egnyte had just raised $10 million from Kleiner Perkins. Since then it has raised another $16 million from Google Ventures.

Jain said that Egnyte, one of the quieter players in the cloud file-sharing business, has 33,000 enterprise customers and more than 1.2 million individual users, and that bookings for the year are on track to grow by 3.5 times over 2012. As he put it: “We’re in the right place at the right time, with something that companies want.” Indeed.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus