Syncplicity one-ups the file-sharing vendors on regional choice. But does it really?

There's a risk for vendors seeking to offer product differentiation. Is Syncplicity the latest to bump up to this issue?

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Ahhh -- the enterprise file sharing space (EFSS), a sector awash with more vendors and more confusion than you can shake a stick at. From the pure-play vendors who are "all-in" in the public cloud (Box and Dropbox), to the vendors who offer EFSS as an adjunct to their core platform (Microsoft and Google) to those who offer a hybrid differentiation (Egnyte and Accellion, for example). What is a customer to do when faced with such choice?

Well, the first thing you do is provide a granular differentiation as a way to separate largely similar vendors from where you stand.

Today's example is Syncplicity, which has just announced PrivacyRegions, a play which the company believes uniquely combines regional cloud services, policy-driven hybrid cloud storage and a new privacy driven architecture. This design, as Syncplicity sees it, enables E.U.-based enterprises to confine the storage and processing of all their files, metadata and personal information to the E.U. region.

So, you may well ask, how is this different from, for example, what Box offers in terms of regional granularity of file storage? Well, according to Syncplicity, other EFSS vendors allow customers to choose a geographic zone only for file storage. At the same time, they process and store all metadata, such as filenames, and personal information, including complete or significant indexing of regional files' content, and store it in U.S.-based cloud services.

By contrast, Syncplicity PrivacyRegions segregate a company's metadata, personal information and file storage to its chosen region. Customers choosing Syncplicity PrivacyRegion for Europe can be assured all of their information is kept within Europe.

To back up the value here, Syncplicity adds that it has formally achieved its U.S.-E.U. Privacy Shield certification. Using industry-recognized privacy solutions provider TRUSTe, Syncplicity has gone through a third-party audit of its mobile, desktop and web applications, reviewing its policy and privacy practices to become compliant with Privacy Shield.

"Organizations operating globally need to be safe in the knowledge that its data is both secure and compliant," explained Jon Huberman, CEO, Syncplicity. "Beyond Privacy Shield compliance, Syncplicity offers customers additional layers of protection and flexibility with our hybrid cloud storage model and Syncplicity E.U. PrivacyRegion, giving customers a full regional implementation option with more control over their critical data while maintaining a seamless user experience."

Of course, that hybrid granularity story is one that many others are also telling. Egnyte offers customers full flexibility over the location of their data, ditto for Accellion, Citrix ShareFile and even Microsoft SharePoint. So arguably, Syncplicity is meeting -- rather than eclipsing -- these vendors.

On the other issue, the Privacy Shield certification one, Syncplicity is also somewhat extending the truth. Vineet Jain, CEO of Egnyte, told me that technically his company is also certified and had its application accepted on Sept. 19. All Egnyte is awaiting is final listing on the PrivacyShield website.

So is this release an opportunistic one to try and gain a small and limited one-up on competitors? It's hard to see it as anything else. Which, in itself, raises a far more existential question for all of these vendors: If small incremental announcements are the only thing you have to offer real differentiation from all the other players in the space, could it be that the space you're in is just too crowded? That is a far more important question than five minutes of differentiation due to a technically correct but realistically fictional point of difference.

And therein lies the real issue in this space . . .

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