There’s not a lot of innovation in the file syncing market. Even today, what are the main differentiators? Quality of service, capacity per dollar, and platform compatibility? There’s not a lot of feature diversity between the big players in the space. Sure some of them have integrations with other apps to extend functionality, but that’s more about making a given service a feature of another app, rather than a feature of that service inherently.
That’s probably because the basic functionality of these services is easy to understand and pretty solid. The sync folder looks like any other folder in the file explorer. Anything placed in there is synced to the cloud and to other configured computers. Not too hard right? But is this all that sync and share can be? Cloudtenna thinks there’s room for innovation.
Most sync and share applications are blind to what you are putting in there. Their only job is to make sure that it’s replicated where it needs to go in a timely manner. I mean, that’s an important job, so I’m glad that’s on lockdown. But when leveraging data as a value in and of itself is the order of the day in IT, it’s also a wasted opportunity.
Cloudtenna’s DirectShare doesn’t pass on this opportunity. Instead it leverages metadata from synced files and directories and send it to their cloud for deep analytics. Essentially, you run a small footprint VM behind the firewall to initiate the service, point to the data you want to sync, and Cloudtenna starts deriving insights.
This all sounds great, but what exactly are you getting for all that extra effort?
By analyzing your synced metadata, DirectShare is able to do some interesting thing for organizations. For one, it’s able to implicitly put together a shadow organizational chart. This is done by determining who is looking at the same data, and drawing connections between these users.
The shadow org chart (which incidentally is a great New Wave band name) is then used by their upcoming DirectSearch feature, which is not only fast based on metadata indexing, but can also surface files related to a users role in an organization. These may fall outside of the exact parameters of a given search, but Cloudtenna seems convinced that their machine learning of user behavior will make this a productivity boon rather than a distraction. And as expected, admins can go in to manually add or revoke access, either prior to DirectShare’s analytics, or after the service is running.
Cloudtenna is also out front when it comes to privacy concerns. No data itself is ever sent to the cloud, only metadata (although it should be noted that some metadata is used across organization to train their overall analytics engine). Visibility into metadata is governed by the VM running in an organization, so simply powering it down would cut off Cloudtenna’s access.
On the roadmap, Cloudtenna is also developing an audit solution based on this same analytics engine, which can be used to intelligently identify and implement compliance policy.
One of the dominant paradigms in IT recently has been to view data as a source of value in its own right. With tried and true sync and share solutions, the ability to do so is either not possible, or has to be grafted on after the fact. Cloudtenna is built instead to be metadata aware, and to use this to make sync much more proactive instead of all or nothing. To be honest, I’m surprised we’re not hearing of every company in this space making similar moves. As it stands, DirectShare and DirectSearch form a solid service offering. Once this expands into audit support, it may prove indispensable.