EMC's Syncplicity quietly guns for Box, others

Aided by EMC's massive sales channel and a public or private cloud pitch, Syncplicity does appear to have some enterprise traction.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

EMC's Syncplicity, the storage giant's cloud file sharing and collaboration service, is looking to thump Box in the enterprise as well as other players such as Dropbox. It appears to be quietly making some headway.

On EMC's earnings conference call last week, Syncplicity got a shout-out from David Goulden, CEO of EMC's Information Infrastructure unit. Goulden said:

Syncplicity's trial implementations quickly go viral in the enterprise, but it also makes sense to host Syncplicity in a private cloud, driving storage demand as utilization gross. A great example is a tech company that started off with a 500-seat trial a year ago; bumped it to 6,000 just a few months later; is now at 50,000 seats and on their way to 150,000 seats.

Aided by EMC's massive sales channel and a public or private cloud pitch, Syncplicity does appear to have some traction. The catch is that Syncplicity, which aims to make cloud file sharing a five-horse race with Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft's SkyDrive, doesn't exactly bonk you over the head with stats. Syncplicity's total user base isn't quantified and sales aren't disclosed either since the business wouldn't be material in a quarterly earnings statement.

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All Syncplicity General Manager Jeetu Patel can say is that EMC's 2012 acquisition of the company has worked well. EMC has left the unit largely autonomous, given it sales support and scaled the business up. IDC calls that fastest growing, but who knows what the initial baseline was. When asked for metrics, Patel said "I wish I had a better answer."

However, Syncplicity has a slick user interface, options for private and public cloud deployments, and plays for regulated industries such as healthcare and financial services. In other words, Syncplicity, which flies under the radar so much we excluded it from our TechPro Research roundup of cloud file sharing providers, may be worth a look. We caught up with Patel to talk shop. Here's a look at the highlights:

The approach. Syncplicity's appeal is that it will adapt to how you do work without a learning curve. Instead of one cloud box, you can right-click on any folder and back it up to Syncplicity. In addition, Syncplicity's experience starts from the premise that a worker shouldn’t have to compromise productivity for security and compliance. Syncplicity also buys into the hybrid cloud notion, said Patel. "We connect to SharePoint, Documentum, and your existing investments," he said. "We're not requiring people to change the way they work with some notion of a magic folder on a desktop."



Target market. Syncplicity does well in regulated industry, but the unit isn't targeting verticals in a traditional sense. "We see Syncplicity as a broad market opportunity," said Patel. Syncplicity is also focused on large enterprise and midmarket companies, he added. "You can buy via credit card, but many pay for licenses," said Patel. "We haven't had a tough time getting enterprise mindshare." Syncplicity's enterprise edition is the fastest growing service. Syncplicity has a free edition to 2GB of storage and then $15 a month for 50GB, a business edition for $15 a month with a minimum of three users and an enterprise edition where you have to call for a quote.

Has Box's IPO helped or hurt the cause? Patel said that Box's IPO filing has helped Syncplicity in many ways. "The Box S1 increased activity for us," said Patel. Why? Box's financials highlighted how the company was losing money and growing revenue inefficiently. "If anything the IPO put more scrutiny on Box," said Patel.



Thinking differently. Patel said Syncplicity has to act like a consumer application yet service the large enterprise. For instance, Dropbox retooled its code to be more available for business, but a feature like photo sharing has a home spin. Dropbox is about browsing family and friend photos. "We don't think about the process behind your daughter's pictures, but we do see a meeting picture from a whiteboard," explained Patel. "How do we do that better? How do we make it easier to share that whiteboard picture with just 15 people. We both do photos, but with different purposes."

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