Copiun dismisses Dropbox and Google rivalry, says tablets are changing the way we work

by Doug Drinkwater

June 4 2012

Copiun's TrustedShare solution allows VPN-less access to the corporate network
Copiun's TrustedShare solution allows VPN-less access to the corporate network

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.

Doug Drinkwater is the International Editor of TabTimes and is based in London, England.

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  • bfrench
    2 years 5 months ago


    Thanks so much for the direct and detailed response. And I agree - no intent for an online war - just the facts will do. ;-)

    I [now] completely understand your comments concerning file duplication and how they were intended to be framed. This is a huge issue (as you point out) and one that few people truly understand until it's typically too late.

    As you can surmise from my comments, I know a little bit about Accellion, but far less about your technology. It's refreshing to encounter someone who is passionate about maintaining authoritative instances of information objects. And you are absolutely correct about Accellion's duplication of documents from SharePoint (I think it's a legacy interface actually), and of course, they are not the only enterprise file sharing solution to do this.

    With respect to your comment...

    "Trusted Apps: I'm not sure where you read that users have to manage trusted apps."

    I gleaned it from this part of the article.

    "There’s also trusted app data sharing, but users have to manage the data," he said."

    I'm still a little confused about this point, but I need to read your comments a few more times I think. ;-)

    And when you say ...

    "... for a typical large enterprise looking for an enterprise wide deployment, this is a non-starter. Why, you may ask?"

    In this regard (and to be clear), I would not ask - you and I agree 100% on this point. ;-)

    This is a great article and commentary and to add a little more value, I'm curious what your reaction is to this paragraph specifically. I'd love to hear your thoughts about my statement.

    "When mobile document sharing apps are able to depict [visually and logically] where authoritative document instances exist and within the context of rapidly changing document versions, then - and likely only then - will enterprise workers fully understand the merit of a sharing system that seeks to avoid making copies of any digital artifact."

    Lastly [perhaps lastly], in light of the QuickOffice acquisition by Google - any thoughts? How does this impact companies like Copiun and Accellion? Does either company have an advantage because of this acquisition? Also, any thoughts on the next big dominoes that are likely to tip because Google kicked it up a notch in the cloud by acquiring a talented file format team that is mobile-centric? And where does QO:Connect fit into all of this blending going on at the Goog?

  • puneesh
    2 years 5 months ago


    Thanks for your interest and comments on the article. I figured I'd respond to your questions, but please note that I have no intention of engaging in a bulletin board war here.

    First of all, there was no intent to take a jab at any particular company, but point out that self-styled, enterprise dropbox type companies like Box and Accellion are only looking at a narrow subset of the enterprise customer needs and the problem is much larger. With this preamble, let me address the questions/concerns you raise.

    Your point about Duplication of data: I think you misunderstand this point. Of course, the duplication of data is not referring to the "fleeting moment" when you are editing a document, it would be utterly childish and inane for us to say that! Please give Doug and us more credit than that!!

    Instead, it is a much larger and serious issue especially when you are in a large corporation, with thousands of employees & millions of documents in existing document repositories like file servers and SharePoint. The issue with enterprise dropbox type companies is that they "require" you to "duplicate" data from existing repositories into their repository in order to enable mobile access and collaboration. The key words here are "require to duplicate". These solutions force enterprise organizations to make one of the following two choices (talk about being between a rock and a hard place!):

    - Abandon SharePoint and FileServers wholesale to move millions of documents from existing repositories into these self styled enterprise dropbox solutions. OR
    - Encourage users to duplicate data from SharePoint/Fileservers into the repositories of these solutions, simply to enable mobile workers with iPads access to corporate document data! This is the duplication that we're referring to. While smaller deployments and specialized usecases can ignore this issue, for a typical large enterprise looking for an enterprise wide deployment, this is a non-starter. Why, you may ask? Think about it: you just doubled your infrastructure, security, storage, audit and management costs because you are managing two repositories and the real kicker is that now your users don't know where the master version of a particular document lives in SharePoint or this duplicate repository!

    Don't get me wrong, for specialized usecases like Managed File Transfer for which Accellion was built, such a duplication may make sense, but for enterprise wide deployments, duplication of data into a mobile only repository just doesn't fly.

    To your other points:
    QuickOffice integration: Copiun's integration with QuickOffice also works exactly the way you describe in your comments.

    Trusted Apps: I'm not sure where you read that users have to manage trusted apps. Instead, Trusted Apps are configured by a corporate IT administrator - NOT THE END USER - as part of a policy, to ensure that users can only share data with corporate approved apps. For end users, there is no management or action required. This is key to ensure there is no data leakage to a consumer app of the day that the end user may have downloaded from the app store.

    Lastly, it is routine for media articles to contrast offerings vs. other solutions to make sure IT buyers can understand the strengths and value propositions of different solutions. It can make some people uncomfortable, but as long as the information is factual, it is not only fair, but also desirable from the end buyer's perspective.


  • Janine
    2 years 5 months ago

    Great comment, Bill. Doug, appreciate the mention.

    For us, our sync feature is equivalent to Dropbox for the Enterprise (and it helps readers understand where we are coming from), but we also have native mobile apps, collaboration features and file transfer features.

    Accellion does not store a copy of the file in a public cloud unless our customers have chosen that deployment option.

    Accellion has multiple deployment options - public, private or hybrid cloud. By hybrid we mean that you may use our public cloud option in the New York area, but have another Accellion instance in a virtual environment behind the DMZ in LA. Both of these are managed by one administrative interface. If you deploy the public cloud option, you may choose to upload files to the cloud and those will be stored on the public cloud server.

    If you deploy behind the firewall (and 80% of our customers choose to do this), the files are never replicated to be stored in a public cloud.

    We find that our more privacy and compliance-focused customers tend to deploy Accellion in a private cloud. We currently have more than 1,500 customers and 10M users. You can learn more @Accellion.

  • bfrench
    2 years 5 months ago

    Doug, great article.

    I was surprised to see the Copiun CEO jab at Accellion while also saying...

    "... we’ve already seen one company looking to securely exchange documents with over 2,000 insurance brokers via provided tablets,"

    Accellion already supports this model both for desktops and mobile and is already in production with clients in the legal segment for precisely these types of use cases. The intersection of mobile file sharing and collaboration with non-employees is precisely why Accellion kitedrive was created. However, it's my interpretation that this move by Accellion is neither consumer-driven nor reflective of the assertion that Accellion creates copies of documents.

    I don't know everything about the Accellion platform architecture, but I have a sense that any copy created as a result of mobile file sharing tasks, is created out of necessity and destroyed forthwith when the copy is no longer needed.

    A good example is round-trip editing with QuickOffice. As documents are accessed through Accellion on iOS, it is possible to view documents without ever forcing the iOS app to create a copy. Furthermore, it is possible to share a document into the QuickOffice environment, modify, and perform a round-trip versioned submission back into the Accellion platform - all without creating any copies or disrupting the notion of an authoritative document instance.

    Based on my tests and reviews of Accellion, Copiun's CEO is simply uninformed.

    And while we're on this topic, how is it possible to edit or version a document without creating a [fleeting] copy for some instance in time and within a sphere of trust? Even a server-based editing model requires a copy [somewhere].

    Mr. Chaudry fails to address (or you missed the opportunity to incite a discussion) concerning the more insidious aspect of document sharing and editing in a secure collaborative space. He mentioned that users have to manage trusted engagements with apps like QuickOffice. If the apps are truly "trusted", users shouldn't have to manage anything. I believe this is precisely the approach and philosophy Accellion has taken - users simply cannot be burdened with process details to keep information protected.

    I was about to mention that Mr. Chaudry and I agree on one thing, but I think you both have missed a key opportunity to educate readers on the axis of this statement:

    "Customers really don’t want to duplicate this data into a mobile-only depository..."

    While this may seem like a true statement, my research indicates users have no concern or sense that anything like this may be occurring when using file sharing cloud services. Furthermore, even after explaining to users that they are creating duplicates of documents when using DropBox and other consumerized file sharing systems, they really don't comprehend the magnitude of their actions.

    IT and information architects certainly don't want users creating copies of documents; in this we agree. However, the average enterprise worker is driven by other, more important incentives such as access to information. And they will likely never give up the benefits of this incentive without a more comprehensive set of incentives such as versioning and document conflict resolution in a collaborative framework.

    When mobile document sharing apps are able to depict [visually and logically] where authoritative document instances exist and within the context of rapidly changing document versions, then - and likely only then - will enterprise workers fully understand the merit of a sharing system that seeks to avoid making copies of any digital artifact.

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