Egnyte collapses distributed storage to remove those pesky productivity barriers

The Egnyte Connect Desktop: Hardly a riveting name, but beyond the nomenclature, Egnyte aims to remove barriers to content collaboration.

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Sometimes I yearn for the good old days where news was delivered on printed paper once a day, and information was either gleaned from one's school friends or alternatively from that huge collection of Encyclopedia Britannica your parents purchased in a moment of weakness. Those days are well and truly gone and we're all awash in information, much of it fake or -- at best -- alternative.

This problem holds true within the organization where workers of today are bombarded by information from (and in) a plethora of different places.

If you're a vendor in the content collaboration space that wants to really make a difference to knowledge workers' productivity, your key challenge is to collapse this complexity -- or at least find ways to obfuscate the actual complexity that exists. This is the thinking behind Egnyte's latest release of its Connect product, a release that -- in unusually bombastic style for one so modest -- Egnyte CEO Vineet Jain says will "build a 'Content Superhighway' to accelerate productivity."

To explain what is going on here, Egnyte Connect has always been about bringing together content sitting in different siloed repositories. This latest release, however, includes a desktop application which gives users the ability to collaborate on any corporate content with no limits on file size, type or location. The desktop app leverages a user experience that most people are familiar with -- the Mac Finder or Windows Explorer -- and via this gives access to every piece of content a user needs. The idea is to decouple the "where is the content?" questions from anything related to user experience.

The rationale behind the offering is clearly articulated by Egnyte.

"As the amount of content in organizations continues to grow exponentially and is spread across many storage systems and cloud applications, it's becoming difficult for employees to figure out how to quickly and efficiently access what they need to get their jobs done," said Jain. "The new release of Egnyte Connect decouples 'content location' from 'user experience' by automatically providing users the fastest route to their content and allowing IT to modernize the content infrastructure without users ever noticing. This is the next step in taking businesses from the 'Information Age' to the 'Intelligence Age,' where they will have smarter content and ultimately smarter businesses."

It is important to think about this release within the context of Egnyte's core beliefs. While Jain sees a rapid migration of data occurring from traditional storage locations to the cloud, the fact is that significant amounts of data still resides on-premises. According to Jain, "hybrid is the word."

In line with this, Jain believes that this release is the culmination of the company's hybrid vision -- a desktop app that exposes an entire file system. In doing so, regardless of where the content exists -- on-premises, in the cloud and/or on the desktop -- Egnyte offers intelligence around the shortest way to the data. It is focused on delivering a global file architecture distilled into a very simple desktop app -- and hence a global file system.

It is this intelligence thing which is particularly interesting. In marketing speak, Egnyte explains that the connector is "leveraging analytics to bridge content silos and intelligently optimize user experience based on location and access method." So what is a simple explanation of what is actually a pretty compelling offering?

Egnyte will now contextually chose where a file should be accessed from. In the old way of working, a user would open a particular file and, hence, by default would specify which location to open it from. Egnyte is adamant that its new desktop app will have multiple benefits for users.

Per the briefing materials:

  • Working Online and Offline -- When a user has Internet connectivity, the desktop app will automatically show all the corporate content available to a user. Users will also be able to mark any files and folders for offline access, allowing them to keep working with limited or no internet connectivity. Once the internet connection is re-established, the desktop app will automatically sync the edited files with Egnyte Connect so all other corporate users can see the changes made.
  • Intelligent Access to Cloud and On-Premises Content -- When a user is working on a file, the desktop app will automatically select the copy that is the closest to the user in order to reduce latency and optimize bandwidth cost. If a user is in the office working on a piece of content that is available via on-premises storage, Egnyte Connect will access the copy stored there. If the user is working remotely or at an office without on-premises storage, the cloud copy will automatically be selected. Meanwhile, this will all transparent to the end user.
  • Global File Locking -- When multiple people on the team are working on a single piece of content, it can be tricky if multiple versions are created. With Egnyte Connect's new desktop app, if a user is working on a piece of content, the file will be "locked" and other team members notified, keeping everyone aligned and preventing a potential version conflict.
  • Working With Productivity Apps They Like -- The Egnyte Connect desktop app is backward compatible and provides cross-platform access via any productivity application. For example, when a user is using their favorite chat application, users will be able to access content from the Egnyte Connect desktop app just like they would by opening their Windows Explorer or Mac Finder -- opening, reviewing, editing and saving the content right back to where it came from. The desktop app will even enable right-clicking to create a link to post right into their chat app.
  • Limitless Devices -- The Egnyte Connect desktop app redefines the concept of "content management," making all of their content available at their fingertips, regardless of hard drive size, file size or file type, or where it's stored in the corporate infrastructure. Users will no longer have to think about disk space, starting a VPN, or logging in to a cloud service to have all of their important content available to them at all times, creating a convenient and stress-free experience wherever they are working.


Sometimes the simplest solutions are the most effective. Personally, I'd be pretty keen to revert to those moth-eaten copies of Encyclopedia Britannica and my daily dose of news from a soggy newspaper. Time has, however, well and truly moved on, and the digital complexity within which we exist is only going to get worse (or more "fragmented," if you're of a more optimistic disposition).

Given that increasing complexity, simple solutions like Egnyte's desktop app will be increasingly valuable. It may not be sexy, but it works and it delivers what it says it does: greater efficiency and productivity. Nice job.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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