MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Egnyte already stands apart from cloud-based file sharing services like Box and Dropbox, because it can store files on companies’ existing data center infrastructure as well as clouds. That means companies can keep working with the gear they’ve invested in. But this distinction on its own is no longer enough.
Like some other tech companies, Egnyte is making its service smarter by using data it already has on hand, like which employees open which files. The results of the work could benefit admins at companies that deploy Egnyte as well as people who actually use files. Of course, the new features Egnyte can advertise should also help Egnyte grow into a bigger company.
“Now you have ‘content intelligence’ to make a recommendation that this data should be moved into the cloud and therefore reduce the footprint of this piece of hardware,” said Egnyte cofounder and chief executive Vineet Jain in an interview with VentureBeat at company headquarters earlier this month. The “content intelligence” could also suggest that a file containing sensitive information that lives on the cloud could be relocated to secure storage gear in a company’s data center.
Going forward, Egnyte will provide a range of options drawing on this content intelligence — from visualization of file activity to handy recommendations for IT to act on, all the way up to automation options. Egnyte could also automatically share files and generate digital places for people to collaborate online if they have a history of working together on files — but provide nothing more than viewing rights to outside collaborators.
Some other software companies with file-sharing services, including Microsoft and Box, have announced automation features. In a thematic sense, Egnyte’s latest moves fit with that trend. But they’re the sort of thing only a company like Egnyte can do.
Microsoft presumably could go further because it can work with files in on-premises data centers, and IBM might smarten up its file sharing software as well. But at the moment, Egnyte is the one making strategic changes at a time when it’s not that hard to just get lumped in to the increasingly generic and commoditized file sync and share market.
Just like Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella would like to stop talking about devices and services and instead use terms like productivity and platforms, Jain senses the rise of an abstracted way of thinking about files. No longer will file-sharing products be bought or marketed based on where the files live. It will be more about business needs like cost, network latency, and security.
“Eventually, we’ll stop talking about them [on premises and cloud] as different entities,” Jain said. “We’ll start talking about them as different data tiers.”