EMC combines 'bring your own storage' with cloud-based file sharing

Company lets Syncplicity users store file-sharing data on their own storage hardware, so long as its EMC-branded

EMC today revealed the latest fruits of its acquisition of file-sharing service Syncplicity, now offering companies the option to use the cloud-based service while storing the data in-house on their own EMC-branded hardware.

The idea behind EMC's play is to give users the convenience of a cloud-hosted file-sharing service through which they can share files with anyone -- both inside and outside the firewall and across all types of devices -- while granting IT greater control over where potentially sensitive data resides and how it's shared. It also addresses potential compliance issues, such as requirements that forbid companies from storing sensitive information off-site.

Time will tell whether the approach will help give EMC an edge as it takes on the array of cloud-based file-sharing services, from general-purpose options such as Dropbox and Google Drive to enterprise plays such as VMware's Project Octopus, Box, or Citrix ShareFile. All of these services have to overcome the security stigma associated with cloud-based sharing.

EMC touts its approach as granting companies a "highly automated, enterprise-grade file-sharing capability, where policies and performance follow data wherever it's accessed or shared without sacrificing security or control," said Chris Ratcliffe, vice president of marketing for EMC's Advanced Storage Division.

Companies can choose from two EMC storage hardware options: the Isilon scale-out NAS or Atmos object-based storage. Isilon is built to scale from tens of terabytes on up to tens of petabytes and is groomed to support large multisite, multitenant environments. Atmos is designed to let apps and storage run anywhere and delivers metering and chargeback capabilities based on bandwidth and consumption.

Syncplicity offers IT centralized control over which devices may be used to access, sync, and share files and folders. The service also provides tools for enforcing data-retention policies, enabling shared files and folders to be automatically and permanently deleted from user devices when required. Further, IT has the ability to remote wipe any user's account, their individual computers, or mobile devices of all corporate data. Syncplicity also offers native support for single sign-on (SSO) against SAML or OpenID-based identity providers including Active Directory/LDAP, Google Apps, and OneLogin.

One of the selling points of letting companies store their own file-sharing data is, the approaches reduces compliance risk while giving IT increased control over data. Information stored on-site is subject to IT security governance and protection policies. What's more, files are not duplicated both on-premise and in the cloud; rather, data objects stored on-site remain there.

Notably, companies can't choose a hybrid approach, whereby some data is stored on local hardware while other data resides on Syncplicity-owned hardware. The company is considering that option down the road. And EMC could see interest in Syncplicity grow if it also opts to offer support for non-EMC storage hardware.

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