Share, Store and Backup Files On Demand

Wednesday May 7th 2008 by Lauren Simonds
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Egnyte, a new on-demand service, aims to give small businesses a simple, affordable way to share and save files, anywhere, anytime.

Egnyte, a startup based in Mountain View, Calif., has launched a service – the Egnyte On Demand File Server – that the company claims addresses "the three most common technology challenges facing every small business: data storage, information sharing and computer backup."

According to Vineet Jain, Egnyte's co-founder and CEO, the on-demand file server lets you share files with colleagues, vendors and partners, automatically backs up files and folders on PCs, and offers secure online file storage.

"Our on-demand file server solution eliminates the cost and complexity typically associated with buying, installing and maintaining hardware servers, VPNs and FTP sites," he said. "It removes these barriers and lets small businesses take advantage of technology that can help grow their business."

To use Egnyte On Demand File Server, youinstall a 5 MB application on your computers. This software lets you access the file server the same way you would access a drive on your desktop. You can also access the file server from any computer using a Web browser. The service supports Windows (XP and Vista) and Mac (Tiger and Leopard).

Jain said that, while suitable for larger groups, the file server's sweet spot is small businesses with one to 20 people. "We've got about 1,200 paying customers now," said Jain. "Many of them are in accounting and finance, but the service is appropriate for anyone with a geographically dispersed work force."

File Sharing and Data Backup

The file server not only simplifies sharing data with co-workers and remote teams inside the company, said Jain, but also with people outside the company such as vendors and partners.

The file server stores files in a folder hierarchy and includes policy enforcement capabilities, letting you control who can access individual folders. You can also set files to read-only or determine who has permission to modify or delete files.

The company says the service is optimized for sharing large files and folders, and claims "significantly faster uploads and downloads," an important consideration for companies that may routinely send large files such as videos, engineering or image files to clients.

Jain said that the data backup portion of the service provides automatic, continuous backup to the Egnyte file sever. Customers select the files and folders on their PCs that they want backed up.

Security and Support

One of the main concerns about any online storage service is whether your data is secure. The other is can you get it back if you want to change services or bring your data back in-house.

Egnyte provides 128-bit SSL encryption – the same type used by banks and credit card companies – to protect data in transit, said Jain. The company stores the data in two SAS-70-compliant data centers, one in California and the other in Idaho. These centers protect the data with 256-bit encryption while onsite.

Jain pointed out that Egnyte is a monthly plan; you can opt out at any time and retrieve your data easily. "When you first sign up with Egnyte, you get your own sub-domain that would look something like companyabc@egnyte.com," said Jain. "From that site, you can export your data into a Zip file and download it. That's it."

Another security point Jain made is that Egnyte has a legally binding clause in its terms of service. "If Egnyte should, for whatever reason, go out of business," said Jain, "We will give customers seven days notice so that they can get their data out of the system before the company shuts down."

Jain also said the company offers above average support, including a service level agreement (SLA) of 99.7 percent uptime, phone support (Mon-Sat, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. PST), free 24/7 e-mail support (with a 30-minute response time guarantee) and a 15-day free trail.

Pricing

Egnyte On Demand File Server costs $15 per month per power-user. Standard users are free, and you can have an unlimited number of them. A power-user has complete access to all of the File Server's features.

Standard users don't have access to two of the service's premiere features: They can't backup data or e-mail from their computers, and they can only access the file server with a Web browser – they don't get direct desktop access.

The pricing for Egnyte includes unlimited storage and unlimited bandwidth.

A Customer Perspective

Mari Anne Vanella is the CEO of the Vanella Group, a marketing firm for high-tech companies. Her 10-person team provides enterprise-level companies with high-quality telesales lead-generation solutions. "We help our clients penetrate an organization at the C-level," she said. With a roster that includes SAP, Cisco and HP, her client list reads like a Who's Who in high-tech.

Vanella started using the Egnyte On Demand File Server three months ago on the advice of a business colleague. "Most of my clients rely on CRM software to track sales leads," said Vanella. "We enter our lead-generation reports into their CRM system, but our customers would have to drill down several levels to get to our reports."

Now, in addition to adding their reports into the customers' CRM systems, Vanella's team puts their lead profiles in a shared folder on the Egnyte server, which Vanella said makes it much easier for her customers to get primary information.

"All sales guys care about is lead reports," she said. "The Egnyte shared folder has become my clients' preferred method. They no longer have to go into the CRM system, run a report and then search through layers of detail to get the information they need to close deals."

Vanella acknowledged that adding the data to a shared folder is an extra step for her team, but it's made her clients much happier. "It's a huge value to them. It's easier for them to see project results and easier to justify their budgets."

No one ever enjoys learning a new business process. Vanella said she was surprised and pleased with how easy it was, and how little time it took, to learn the ins and outs of Egnyte. "I learned this solution in like 10 to 15 minutes. Nobody has time to stop and learn a new technology. This was painless."

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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