Cloud File-Sharing Fans Get Secure New Options

Accellion allows cloud file sharing to reach into SharePoint, with other document management systems to follow. Meanwhile, FileLocker offers private key encryption option.
10 Great Social Features For Microsoft SharePoint 2013
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Yet another competitor is entering the crowded cloud file-sharing market this week, while an established enterprise player is broadening its reach.

FileLocker is a new product from InfraScale, which is better known for its SOS Online Backup and Enterprise Protect products, which are the source of its knowhow in secure Internet file transfer and storage. FileLocker's claim to fame is that it is a cloud file-sharing service for those who don't necessarily trust cloud file-sharing services, offering more user control over file encryption.

Accellion was in the secure large-file transfer business before the advent of freemium products like Dropbox and Box, and positions itself as a more enterprise-friendly choice. Accellion claims better security and administrative controls, even as Box stakes its own claims to enterprise security. The cloud file-sharing market also includes Microsoft's SkyDrive, Google Drive and many other choices.

One thing Accellion and FileLocker have in common is the option for on-premises deployment of their technologies, which is something pure cloud vendors like Box and Dropbox don't support. FileLocker announced its product Tuesday, while Accellion announced a new feature for integration with document management systems.

[ Should you drop your existing cloud filesharing and storage tools for new options? See Salesforce ChatterBox: 4 Facts SMBs Should Know.]

Kitepoint is a new component of Accellion Mobile File Sharing that makes folders from other document management systems accessible through the same user interface as files stored in the Accellion repository. "We're providing unified access to enterprise content silos, including SharePoint," said Hormazd Romer, senior director of product marketing for Accellion. "Today, if you're pulling content from different stores, it's really difficult to navigate between them."

The first iteration of this feature, now in beta and scheduled for general availability in December, provides access to files stored in SharePoint. In the first half of 2013, Accellion is promising to follow up with a similar mechanism for accessing files in Windows or Unix file servers or stored in enterprise content management systems such as Documentum.

The idea is to provide access to files stored in these locations without the need to replicate them to a cloud service or undermine the enterprise's administrative control over those files, Romer said. Typically, administrators will allow mobile users access to only selected folders on these repositories, those that are most relevant to their jobs, rather than overwhelming them with the entire directory tree. Users can then access those folders through Accellion, without the need to establish a virtual private network (VPN) connection, he said. The enterprise maintains control over the source file and can audit who has accessed it, he said.

Kitepoint also includes the option to send files outside of the company, where the recipients get a coded link that allows them to retrieve the file. That's the only case where the system makes a copy of the file from the source repository, rather than providing access to the live file. The sender can set an expiration date for the link or revoke access at any time.

Accellion already offers a plug-in for SharePoint, which will continue to be supported, but there the usage scenario is different. Rather than providing access to SharePoint for remote users, the plug-in allowed SharePoint users to send files through the Accellion service. Kitepoint will come to market as a feature of Accellion's Enterprise Connect package for mobile access, which it says can be priced "as low as" $5 per month for high-volume deals.

FileLocker is trying to capture a share of the market with both aggressive pricing and an attack on the security of other options. While other cloud file-sharing services like Box encrypt data in transit and on end-user devices, you have to trust the cloud service itself not to access your files inappropriately, said InfraScale CEO Ken Shaw. That's one reason many government agencies and businesses that deal with very sensitive data don't allow use of these services, he said.

FileLocker's answer is to support the use of private key encryption, which means only the user has access to the encryption key and the service provider can't see what is inside the files or folders you share through its service. This means the people you're sharing with also need to have a password to unlock the folder, and you'll need to share it with them through some means outside the FileLocker service. Users typically don't use this option for every folder they share, only for those that are particularly sensitive, Shaw said.

FileLocker is free for five people and up to 25 GBs of cloud storage (5 GB per person). For more than five people, FileLocker is $5 per person per month and includes unlimited cloud storage, the secure FileLocker Desktop Sync app, the FileLocker Mobile application for iPhone and Android, and administrative controls and reporting.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and

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