EMC Sells Off Syncplicity, Its Catch-All File Sync Business App

EMC ostensibly is conceding a growing market to a number of competitors, including Box, Dropbox, Google, Amazon, Egnyte, Office 365 and others.

EMC has decided that it doesn't want to compete in the file sync-and-sharing and calendar business anymore.

The storage and virtualization giant revealed July 7 that it has sold Syncplicity, a cloud-based all-purpose business app that works with cloud or on-premises storage, to private investment firm Skyview Capital.

Just as it did in May 2012 when it bought Syncplicity, EMC did not disclose terms of the deal. EMC did say that it will continue to sell the app and maintain a financial stake in the service.

Conceding a growing market to others

EMC ostensibly is conceding a large and growing market to a number of competitors, including Box, Dropbox, Egnyte, Google, Amazon, Microsoft Office 365 and others. Plus, the leaders in this category are getting stronger; Box recently signed a major partnership deal with IBM, and Dropbox raised $325 million last year to go with its estimated $12 billion valuation.

The bottom line is that Syncplicity, despite being a useful app with more than 1 million users, didn't fit well enough into EMC's core businesses, which are designed for enterprise IT professionals -- not line-of-business end users.

"As a vendor offering a file services platform that enables the deployment of enterprise file sync and share solutions fully behind the firewall, we are familiar with the trends in this space," Jeff Denworth, Senior Vice President of Marketing of cloud storage and file sync provider CTERA, told eWEEK.

"The sale of Syncplicity by EMC is not surprising -- the solution was offered both as a service, where it competed with well-funded players and freemium models, and as a platform for enterprise deployment, where it failed to pass muster as a fully private, behind-the-firewall solution.

"As CTERA's annual survey has shown -- and is supported by other research by 451 Group and Gartner, the trend is toward a private (including hosted private or VPC) EFSS model where data security and governance are under tighter IT control. Syncplicity doesn't satisfy those requirements, and therefore didn't fit well with EMC's customer profile."

Catch-all-type business app

Syncplicity is a kind of catch-all business app that users say is very "sticky." It is an intuitive file-sharing and synchronization cloud service that combines email, calendar and contacts into a smooth workflow app for laptops, tablets and smartphones, enabling users to store and sync files online on Windows and Mac OS X.

General Manager/CEO Jeetu Patel will stay with Syncplicity during the transition, but veteran storage exec Jonathan Huberman (former CEO of Iomega) will take the reins thereafter, EMC said.

Syncplicity's mobile editing capabilities allow users to create and edit MS Office documents and annotate PDFs without leaving Syncplicity's mobile application. Users can securely share files with both internal and external users by adding individuals to shared folders, sending password-protected links, and even retracting and time-bombing content once access to material is no longer required, he said.

Syncplicity also comes with a long list of administrative options, including customer-managed keys for rights-managed files. Users can keep whatever documents and their keys on premises as needed for regulatory purposes, or they can keep them in public or private clouds as needed.

Offers number of options for users

"Our philosophy is this: Give users as much choice as possible in the security model and in the usability model," Patel told eWEEK. "Some customers might start with one modality, then move to the other over time. We've had some customers start by putting all their documents in the cloud, then eventually found that their legal and M&A docs need to move to on-premises. Not all content is created equal."

Syncplicity also offers mobile access to business files in network shares and SharePoint with Syncplicity PanoramaConnector for Documentum; support for Active Directory sync with OneLogin, Ping Identity and Okta; native Windows and Mac clients with file browser integration; and native clients for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Windows 8. It has a mobile-optimized site for BlackBerry and other mobile devices.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...