Egnyte Touts Hybrid Model for Cloud Storage

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As businesses of all sizes warm up to the cloud, their storage needs have been evolving in ratio.

At the same time, concerns such as latency, security and the imperative of robust, always-on Internet connectivity have created a scenario Egnyte CEO Vineet Jain calls “fear of the cloud.”

Egnyte, a startup specializing in cloud storage, file sharing and backup, addresses those issues with a hybrid approach that pairs the convenience and cost savings of remotely managed storage with the trusted assurance of on-site infrastructure. The firm looks to cover both bases, as it were, delivering redundancy in the on-site/off-site synchronization process.

“The hybrid cloud approach enables enterprises to leverage existing hardware investments for increased performance and availability,” Jain explained. “Local and cloud files are automatically synchronized, allowing offline and online access.”

Egnyte’s permission-based folders allow customers to create nested subgroups, a familiar hierarchical model that enables users to customize access controls by user and read/write/delete permissions.

The Egnyte Cloud File Server caters to an increasingly mobile workforce with a storage service that workers can tap into with any Internet-enabled device. Then, with its Local Cloud technology, Egnyte makes good on its hybrid model with replicated copies of everything users store remotely. The Local Cloud family consists of three core products, offering businesses escalating feature sets: Personal Local Cloud, Office Local Cloud and Enterprise Local Cloud. Last week, Egnyte released version 6.0 of the Personal Local Cloud, adding a plugin for Microsoft Outlook that allows users to share files directly within the pervasive email program without having to rely on traditional attachments.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Egnyte also touts the security of its streamlined FTP, which allows users to exchange files without going through the hassle of setting up unique FTP access for senders and recipients.

As the three-year-old company surveys the evolving expectations of storage customers, it takes note that users increasingly expect to access work files from any device, anywhere–a trend that’s only gathering steam with the proliferation of tablet devices and an endless parade of ever-more-sophisticated smartphones. Egnyte offers such a device-agnostic approach, and notes that 40 percent of its customers now access files stored with the company through mobile devices.

Egnyte offers a free, 15-day trial of its service. Then, clients can subscribe on a monthly or annual basis, with rates varying on a number of factors, including the storage capacity and number of users. “Unlike freemium models, Egnyte customers do not subsidize free users, making our offering extremely cost effective,” Jain said.

Egnyte launched in April 2008, originally as a pure-play cloud storage company. The next year, Egnyte introduced its Local Cloud technology, opening the door to the hybrid solution it offers now. Egnyte received its initial funding from Polaris Venture Partners and Floodgate Fund. Then, in February 2011, Egnyte secured another $10 million in a series B round of funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, money that Jain said he plans to use to help spread the word about Egnyte’s storage portfolio across the enterprise world.

“Cloud storage is a crowded space, especially for consumer-class solutions,” Jain said. “Our biggest challenge is to increase the awareness of Egnyte with businesses, specifically for IT managers. This is particularly true in companies with more than 50 users.”

As it looks ahead, Egnyte continues to scramble for a presence on all devices. At the moment, the company is putting the finishing touches on an enterprise app for the new HP TouchPad. Egnyte is also working to expand its international presence as it moves into new markets.

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