Review: Egnyte Takes Winning Approach To The Cloud


Egnyte, a four-year old company based in Mountain View, Calif. and funded by Polaris Ventures, has staked out firm ground in the explosive segment of cloud-based storage -- but offers an approach that's competitively cost-effective, leverages mobile devices and works quickly and easily with an enterprise's existing infrastructure.

Earlier this month, Egnyte officially launched a private-label branding feature for its hosted file server solution, giving resellers or their customers a nifty way to customize this cloud service. Plus, the company has a reseller program that it says provides 20 percent or higher commission, and recurring revenue, on customer referrals.

But none of that would matter unless Egnyte could provide the right answer to this question: Does it work?

The answer: Yes, it does and well.

Here's what we liked:

-- Egnyte Cloud File Server removes two of the biggest enemies to a small or mid-sized business: cost and complexity. In addition to being relatively cost-competitive (150 GB of shared file storage for less than $25 per month), it took less than five minutes to get the service up and running. (The fee includes a license for five "power users" and 100 "standard users." Power users have access to files via desktop and the Web, standard users only via the Web. It can scale up to "Office" class, which is $44.99 per month for a full 1 TB of storage for 10 power and 150 standard users, or down to $9.99 per month for one power user and 20 standard users, with 20 GB of storage;

-- Its Private Local Cloud, which runs an additional $39.99 per month for each NAS server in a business, allows a business to keep local copies of all files on the Egnyte cloud to improve performance; it then synchronizes data between the local cloud and the hosted cloud at regular intervals (ours was every 15 minutes.) This is a nice hybrid approach;

-- Earlier this month, Egnyte added company branding on its cloud storage, with a "Branding Kit" that allows a cloud file server to be integrated with a company's existing brand. That means that a company's employees, partners -- even customers -- that share and access common documents can do so in a custom-branded environment.

-- Egnyte provides a free iPad app, which can be downloaded for free from Apple's iTunes App Store, which provides for mobile access to files, folders and documents. We like this feature, although it's more of a good start than a robust porting of the solution to a mobile device -- since while it provides access to the cloud file server, documents can't be downloaded natively to the iPad nor edited on the iPad; however, documents from the iPad can be uploaded to the cloud file server.

We thought a few things could have used improvement, or a different approach -- none deal breakers, however. As with many cloud providers, we're disappointed that we don't get, upfront, information on where all this data is being hosted and what its uptime statistics look like. (The company does provide an online "incident reports" section on the support page of its Website, listing two minor incidents in two years.)

In addition to cloud-based file server solutions, Egnyte provides FTP and backup functions.

Cloud storage is a crowded field, and getting more crowded by the day. Differentiation will determine the winners from the losers. We like Egnyte's pedigree (funding by Polaris Ventures is a good indicator of credibility), we like its hybrid functionality, its mobile support and its reseller compensation. (Although, its channel program would score higher if it provided a full-fledged VAR program, rather than leading with a referral model.)

The bottom line: You need to consider Egnyte Cloud File Server if you're considering online, cloud-based file storage solutions. We believe the company's approach, differentiation and functionality are solid, and it's positioned to offer solid value throughout the pipeline.