Mobile secure file-sharing company Accellion has enhanced its enterprise offering with the additon of Accellion Mobile Productivity Suite, designed to let iPad users create, edit and share Microsoft Office-compatible documents (Word, Excel and PowerPoint).
If that sounds familiar, it’s the same pitch Accellion’s Silicon Valley neighbor Google makes for Quickoffice, the app it acquired last year.9C4MCEA7ZHJA
But Accellion is taking a different tack than Quickoffice, which is available in both a free version for Google Apps for Business customers and a $19.99 Pro version with more features. There’s also an Android version of Quickoffice.
Accellion isn’t offering a separate free version, but it is making its Mobile Productivity Suite an integrated part of its central Accellion Mobile App for iOS.
The idea is to keep all these files in Accellion’s secure containers rather than having them exposed or transferred to and from consumer services like DropBox.
“Today if you want to edit an Office document on the iPad you have to open a third party app like Quickoffice,” Rama Kolappan, director of mobile product marketing at Accellion. “But there are also rogue apps and you can ‘save as’ to non-secure containers, including the iPad itself that can leads to a high risk of leakage.
“Apps like Quickoffice and Evernote cater to the public cloud, but 80% of our customers are in private clouds,” he added during a demo at the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto.
An Accellion user might still save files to a local iPad, but the file are saved to a secure, encrypted container. Accellion gives IT the ability to customize how different users are allowed to handle files so, for example, some may be allowed to save locally to the iPad and work with files offline, others may not. A pin code might also be required to access certain files.
Photos and images taken with the device can be shared securely from the iPad’s Camera Roll or Library. For example, a whiteboard image from a new product design meeting or a photo taken by a field worker for an insurance case can be sent to the appropriate colleague or client, but is not stored locally to the device where there might be compliance requirements for how such documents are stored.
“I think we’re the first to integrate this kind of productivity app within a secure content management system,” Paula Skokowski, Accellion’s chief marketing officer, told TabTimes.
Giving IT more control of BYOD
She said last year with the rise of BYOD, IT departments had lots of moving parts to deal with.
“In 2013 we see IT starting to take back control and we think this suite is something that will really help organizations get the productivity they need on the iPad, while also addressing the needs of IT for security and manageability.”
Accellion wouldn’t comment on how long it took or what resources were involved in developing the Mobile Productivity Suite or whether it purchased the technology. “We evaluated a lot of options before we decided how we wanted to pursue this,” said Kolappan.
The company charges a monthly rate for the Accellion Mobile App, starting at $15 per user, per month for up to 500 users. There are lower priced options for an Enterprise package covering more users.
Cashing in at Microsoft's expense
Accellion, Google's Quickoffice and others are filling a need business and professional users have to create, edit and share Office documents. Microsoft Office is the most popular business productivity suite of all time, but Redmond has so far refused to release a version for the iPad.
The software giant has reportedly already developed a version of Office for the iPad, but balked at releasing it last year because it didn't want to undercut the appeal of its own new Windows Surface RT tablet which includes a version of Offfice. The other issue is that Microsoft is said to be demanding Apple take a smaller cut than its standard 30% fee for distributing the app in its App Store.
One analyst recently estimated Microsoft stands to lose as much as $2.5 billion by not releasing an iOS version of Office for the iPad.