File Sharing Vendor Egnyte Promises Enterprises Big, Bold and Highly Secure BYOD Environments

By Tony Rizzo

Privately held Egnyte is a company that focuses on delivering a sophisticated file-sharing platform for the enterprise. Founded in 2007, it boasts a rather blue blood collection of investors - Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Floodgate Fund, and Polaris Venture Partners. To date the company has delivered on substantial growth, and has managed to accrue over 30,000 customers though the vast majority of these will be rather on the small and very small side. Some are far more substantial. It also has over a million individual users. Egnyte estimates that over 1 billion files are shared daily by businesses that use its platform.

Egnyte's technology focuses on providing the speed and security of local storage with the accessibility of the cloud. Users can easily store, share, access and backup files, while enterprise IT retains centralized administration and control over all content, along with a very easy means to completely enforce business and security policies. Although it has a vast collection of single users Egnyte is now specifically looking to get far more traction within the enterprise - and wants those larger enterprises to emerge as its central collection of customers.

That strategy certainly makes a lot of sense. It is where the real money is. Moving towards this critical goal, yesterday Egnyte added new services to its platform capabilities that it hopes will begin bringing those larger enterprises into the fold.

It has announced the availability of new mobile apps that will enable companies to create and manage a "secure perimeter stretching from users’ mobile devices to enterprise files stored behind the firewall." The promise in doing so of course is that it should remove all risks associated with BYOD in the workplace.

Fully integrated with Storage Connect, a further platform development that was announced in September 2013, Egnyte’s new mobile apps provide secure access from any device to any file whether they’re stored in the cloud, or locally behind a firewall. Companies that operate in environments requiring high levels of data security and privacy that cannot utilize cloud-based services simply become a core albeit highly secure access point within the platform.

Egnyte’s new mobile apps provide employees with a secure way to access and share these files from any smartphone or tablet without data passing through the cloud - this is the platform's "secret sauce" so to speak. By doing so the Egnyte platform eliminates the myriad security threats associated with cloud-only file-sharing solutions.

The new apps only support Android and iOS, though the company tells us that Windows Phone 8 support is in development. Egnyte for iPhone and Egnyte Enterprise for iPad are available for free download in the App Store. Egnyte Enterprise for Android is available for free download on Google Play. Egnyte tells us that there are some Windows capabilities for laptops already available, though our interest is in WP8. Since Egnyte does also have all those individual users it also provides some support for Barnes and Nobles' Nook and for Amazon's Kindle.

Whether iOS or Android, the new Egnyte mobile app enables users to:

  • Access, search, bookmark and manage all files or folders directly from any mobile device. Full integration with Storage Connect now provides easy access to files stored locally behind the firewall. Any file creation, edits and permission changes are automatically synced online;
  • Download and view any Office document, Google Docs, PDF and images. Downloaded documents can be stored locally for offline access, printing, projecting and editing with editor apps such as Quickoffice;
  • Easily share files with team members, partners and clients using web links or shared folders. Password protection and folder permissions ensure all files and collaboration are kept secure.

Shown below is a typical Egnyte iPhone screen.

The Egnyte Device Control Suite, another integral component of the platform, provides a number of BYOD management features that allow employees to use their mobile devices at work while enabling IT to maintain complete control only over corporate data. Features include:

  • Local File Encryption on Smartphones and Tablets: By limiting access to only authorized users using the Egnyte application, data is prevented from being accessed directly from the mobile file system;
  • Remote Wipe: The central device control panel can initiate and verify the remote wipe of all Egnyte file contents from any device if a device is lost or stolen;
  • Certificate-Based Trusted Device: Only phones and tablets with a valid security certificate are allowed to access the company's file sharing service, preventing access from unauthorized devices;
  • Two-Step Login Verification: A second factor for login, in addition to username/password verification, is enforced. The second factor can be sent as a phone call, passcode text message or push notification to a smartphone. This two-step login can be enforced whether the user is logging in from a smartphone or tablet;
  • Permission Controls: Users are authenticated by their login information when signing into their Egnyte domain, ensuring the right users have access to the right files;
  • A Central Device Control Panel: An integrated view of all end user devices connected to a company's account enable administrators to view information about the user, device, last access, etc. and take corrective actions if the device is compromised. Users can also view their own devices.

Egnyte CEO and Founder Vineet Jain notes that, “Access to files located in existing, on-premises storage from a mobile device has always been the last mile in reaping BYOD productivity. Our new mobile apps not only deliver that last mile of user access, but also create a secure, end-to-end perimeter where files from on-premises storage are encrypted on the mobile device and can be remotely wiped in case the device is lost or stolen.”

The ultimate value in the Egnyte platform is to be found in the ease of use for users (they don't really see much - other than they can essentially do whatever they need to do and are authorized to do. Keeping Egnyte frictionless for users is a key to the service and to effectively using the platform.

Finally, implementation from the IT side is also easy to execute. Businesses do not need to worry about deploying significant IT resources to make the platform operational. The effort required to deliver support for 10, 50, 100 or thousands of employees is essentially the same.

Egnyte is well worth investigating.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

MSPToday Senior Editor

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