Citrix Adds Enterprise File Sharing To ShareFile With New StorageZones

Citrix has added enterprise-class features to its ShareFile cloud storage offerings aimed at helping businesses share files across the cloud while meeting compliance and regulatory concerns.

The new offering, ShareFile StorageZones, is based on technology the company received with its October acquisition of ShareFile, a six-year-old cloud storage file sharing and collaboration software developer.

ShareFile helps companies send confidential files, or files that are too large to send as email attachments, which are typically not encrypted, said Jesse Lipson, vice president and general manager of data sharing at Citrix and the former CEO of ShareFile before the acquisition.

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ShareFile is strictly for business, Lipson said. "There is no consumer version," he said. "There is no free version. We have over 20,000 corporate customers with over 3 million users."

ShareFile has traditionally been targeted at SMB customers, although Citrix started selling it to enterprise customers earlier this year, Lipson said.

Prior to the ShareFile StorageZones release, ShareFile had two primary pieces. The first was the control system, which stores metadata about ShareFile accounts and maintains account information. The second is the storage system, which controls when a file is encrypted, stored, and sent using Amazon EC2 for the storage service and Amazon S3 for the backend storage, he said.

ShareFile StorageZones allows customers to run the storage systems on-premise, Lipson said. "This lets business users store and send files in-house on their own private cloud, or on Amazon S3, or on both," he said. "It's for companies that want to host the files themselves."

The top reason to use ShareFile StorageZones is security, Lipson said.

"Many companies, especially in the financial and healthcare markets, don't want files stored in the cloud," he said. "In some cases, companies have regulatory concerns, and need to tell users if data is stored in a cloud. And in some cases, rational or not, some companies are concerned about security."

In addition to safely sharing confidential or large files with full encryption, ShareFile StorageZones also allows for syncing of files for multiple devices, which Lipson said solves the "Dropbox problem" facing enterprises.

"If an employee uses his or her own storage account like Dropbox for things like HIPAA-regulated data, that data is no longer in compliance," he said. "Or, if an employee leaves, data stored in Dropbox goes with him or her."

Next: Improving The Performance, Flexibility, Security Of File Sharing

Besides providing the security of a private cloud, ShareFile StorageZones also increases the performance of file sharing when compared to using public clouds, Citrix's Lipson said. It also keeps the files closer to users running XenServer server virtualization technology and XenDesktop desktop virtualization technology, he said.

It also provides the ability to store some files on premise and others in public clouds, Lipson said. "Companies with offices around the world can choose where their files are stored," he said. "For example, at Citrix, users on the West Coast can access StorageZones in our California Amazon data centers, while users on the East Coast can access files in our Northern Virginia Amazon data center."

Also new is an iPad app for ShareFile StorageZones. Integrated with a company's Active Directory, the app allows IT administrators to wipe sensitive data off an iPad if the device is lost or the data is on the device too long, Lipson said.

The app also provides audit trails that show who accessed files before they were wiped off in order to meet some Federal requirements that prove files were not accessed by unauthorized users, he said.

Citrix has Android and Blackberry apps for ShareFile, which are expected to be updated with the new enterprise features later this year, he said.

Citrix ShareFile StorageZones is slated to be available later this year.

Citrix is not alone in trying to wean corporate users off of consumer-focused file sharing and collaboration technologies. VMware last month said it is preparing to launch its "Project Octopus" cloud storage service by the end of June.