In an effort to help enterprises get a handle on the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend, Novell has released enterprise file sharing software that it claims is as easy to use as commercial cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Microsoft Skydrive, and Google Drive.
Employees "have been using consumer-based tools designed to share enterprise files," said Eric Varness, Novell vice president of product management and marketing. As a result, organizations "lose control of their content," when they are copied to off-site commercial cloud storage services, he said.
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Filr is designed to provide a way for employees to access their work files from anywhere with an Internet connection, while keeping the files on enterprise servers.
"The content stays in an organization's existing file system. Our server makes the connection from the mobile device. The user logs in, authenticates back to their existing directory, using the same credential they use to log in from the office. And they get a mobile view to their existing file structure," Varness said.
With Filr, an employee can access their home directory (assuming it is on the a shared drive) as well as to any other directories he or she has permissions to access. Filr works with Apple's iPhones and iPads, Android and Blackberry devices, and Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh computers. Filr provides a stand-alone application that can be installed on each type of device, and offers browser access as well.
Filr runs as a virtual appliance, behind the company firewall. It can get user credentials from either Microsoft Active Directory or Novell's own Directory Services. And it gets the file access rights directly from the file system.
Filr also comes with a number of other capabilities as well. It offers a search engine for each employee's files. Employees can set up the software to periodically synchronize files among different devices. It also provides the ability to share documents with others -- assuming the proper permission are in place -- and for multiple parties to comment on documents.
Filr, available Tuesday, costs $45 per user per year. Each virtual appliance can accommodate up to 500 users.