It almost seems like a week can't go by without another mobile cloud storage provider promising to end the rule of Dropbox, Box and Google Drive, and to deliver secure data sharing to smartphone and tablet users in enterprise.
The cloud storage market has become increasingly competitive of late, with the well-recognized leaders Dropbox and Box being joined by the might of Google, and smaller, more enterprise-focused folks like YouSendIt, GroupLogic, SugarSync and Accellion.
Copiun – not another Dropbox for the Enterprise
One of the latest companies to emerge in this space is Copiun, a four-year old firm based in Massachusetts. TabTimes interviewed Copiun founder and CEO Puneesh Chaudhry about his company's offering and why it merits distinct consideration from Dropbox and other would-be competitors.
“We provide a secure mobile collaboration solution from end-to-end, and this is generally designed for mid to large-sized companies”, says Chaudhry.
“There are really two trends we’re facing; one is bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and the second is this bring-your-collaboration (BYOC), and we’re really at an intersection between the two," he continued.
“As companies are seeing more devices for personal or work collaboration, they need access to a browser, to email and to apps for mobile productivity. We take care of providing access to all the user’s documents, while maintaining the enterprise governance and control. That’s the key difference between us and everyone else. We’re also not going out and saying we’re a Dropbox for enterprise, as that’s just a feature for us.”
"Accellion duplicates data for mobile, Dropbox educates the market"
That would seem to be something of a kick at Accellion, which has promoted its kitedrive offering as to being ‘Dropbox for the enterprise.' In fact, Chaudhry is quick to make a distinction between the two offerings and as well as that of other rivals.
“Accellion is trying to create an enterprise Dropbox within a company. The key difference for us is, when we talk to customers, they say that their user documents are in lots of different places; SharePoint, laptops, hundreds of file servers, and other document depositories like Autonomy”, said Chaudhry.
“Customers really don’t want to duplicate this data into a mobile-only depository, and this is what Accellion does, so there’s huge confusion where the data is and no notion of where the master copy lives.”
He's also dismissive of Dropbox and Google’s Drive, though he concedes they help educate the market, a few echoed by Accellion in recent months.
“More of our companies are Fortune 1000 firms who care about security and where their data goes, so they understand Dropbox or Google Drive is not even an option for them," said Chaudhry. "What both companies have done is to provide education on the market as whole.”
Copiun TrustedShare with VPN-free access to corporate networks
Copiun’s approach derives from the fact that most enterprise data is split across a number of different portals, and so the firm’s TrustedShare solution basically allows workers to natively access and edit corporate data on a desktop, mobile or tablet device, without risk of duplication.
Backing up this solution, is Copiun’s new technology which avoids VPN connection, but still allows mobile users to access data on the corporate network.
According to Chaudhry, this patent-pending technology was developed in response to the BYOD trend, which has made businesses uneasy about putting these untrusted devices on the corporate network. Indeed, Copiun says that some businesses are so unsure about BYOD access, that they are even wary of allowing VPN connections, which can sometimes open up a port in the firewall for hackers to take advantage of.
“Our customers were really reluctant to put these second devices on the corporate network, and we're also unwilling to put them on the VPN. So, okay, the data is secure behind the firewall, but if it is not on VPN how do you connect the devices to the corporate network? Some people say open the firewall so apps can get access, but clearly that is a huge security issue," says Chaudry.
Copiun's answer is a technology called the Secure Access Gateway which allows VPN-free access to personal devices. Without any reconfiguration of the firewall, Secure Access Gateway lets you publish all of the company data to a worker’s tablet over WiFi in what the company says is a very secure way.
Chaudhry went onto explain that the technology "creates connections from the inside out" and sits in the cloud. Companies using Copiun have to first deploy the solution at their premises using Copiun’s hosted gateway, which in turn allows personal devices to speak and connect to the corporate network.
MDM-like controls for IT departments
This connection can also be used by IT administrators to allow only authorized apps on the device, so Angry Birds and Facebook apps may be out, while expiration policies can set on certain apps so they ‘time-out’ when no longer required. Further policies can also be integrated to dictate to what degree users can store, email, print and open documents in other applications.
Primarily designed so enterprises can scale to tens of thousands of mobile workers, encompassing millions of mobile documents, there are also tools in place to enforce passcodes and wipe data if a device is lost, and there’s integration with existing MDMs and a feature for auditing and reporting.
But for Chaudhry, TrustedShare is first and foremost something which can secure data on a smartphone or tablet.
“The last key difference with Copiun is that we create a secure container for the content. Companies get worried about how to get the data onto the device, but with the Secure Mobile Gateway, once the data is on the device its stored AES-256 encrypted. There’s also trusted app data sharing, but users have to manage the data," he said.
The management extends to allowing administrators to designate trusted app access like Quickoffice, while restricting consumer app access. “It’s about keeping the corporate and personal data separate.”
“Tablets are changing the way we work”
Copiun supports both iOS and Android apps at present, and is currently developing a BlackBerry version. Windows 8 support is coming in Q3, and Copiun says that this support will extend to both the Metro interface (for desktops and tablets) and Windows Phone.
It is to no great surprise then, that Chaudhry sees tablets and the cloud entwining to positively change how employees work, and he believes that the second wave of tablet adoption will see Apple’s iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, among others, move aggressively into the hands of company business partners and even customers.
“Tablets and mobile devices are going to change the way we work, but we’re currently only dealing with the first wave of employee usage.
"A lot of companies are now looking at non-employee use and we’ve already seen one company looking to securely exchange documents with over 2,000 insurance brokers via provided tablets," he added. "The next step is definitely giving tablets to company agents and customers.
On personal level Chaudhry says we'll see these cloud-based systems affecting more consumers on a daily basis. “I recently exchanged lots of documents for my mortgage, so that area is starting to get talked about as well," he said.
With tablet adoption just getting started, and with Copiun itself now looking to tightly integrate with security vendors and MDMs, the signs are clear that there's plenty of competition in the mobile cloud storage space and distinct options for companies and consumers as well.