Cloud Storage: Enterprise File Sync And Share Business Grows, But Consolidation May Be Ahead

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The cloud-based file sync and share market is a fast-growing opportunity for solution providers helping businesses find a way to add enterprise control to employees' communications which, if not carefully managed, could result in compromised data.

It is also a fragmented market, one characterized by a wide range of vendors -- from a handful serving corporate users with tools providing file access and collaboration tools tailored to a business' policies to a multitude serving either end-user consumers or business users who cannot wait for their IT teams to put corporate policies in place.

Enterprise file synchronization and sharing is an on-premise or cloud-based offering that allows users to synchronize files or share them with others via PCs and mobile devices, either within or outside a business, depending on how it is deployed. It is a key part of business' mobility plans as it allows mobile users to ensure they have access to updated business documents and are able to share them based on corporate policies.

[Related: CRN's 2016 Cloud Storage Week Coverage]

It is the kind of market where a solution provider has an opportunity to make a huge difference for customers of all sizes, especially smaller companies struggling to take advantage of the cloud, said Larry Velez, founder and chief technology officer at Sinu, a New York-based managed services provider.

Sinu is essentially the IT department of more than 100 businesses and is dealing in an environments where smaller companies increasingly have Macbooks or Surface PCs and wireless gear on-site, but nothing else, Velez told CRN.

"Every CEO we work with today is running her business from her iPhone," he said. "If the CEO can run her entire company from an iPhone, that has huge implications for IT infrastructures. And it shows the need for cloud-based collaboration."

The enterprise file sync and share market is large and growing quickly. Research firm MarketsandMarkets this year estimated the market would grow to $3.5 billion by 2020, representing a compound annual growth rate of 27.5 percent from last year's $1.1 billion.

Forrester Research in 2016 divided the enterprise file sync and share market into two segments: cloud-based Software-as-a-Service solutions, and hybrid solutions based either on-premise or in a hybrid cloud.

While hybrid file sync and share solutions offer better flexibility than cloud-based solutions for companies that still have the bulk of their content on-premise, cloud-based file sync and share offerings are important as businesses move more of their data to the cloud, according to Forrester.

Forrester estimated that by 2018 80 percent of enterprises plan to use SaaS for some or all of their content services, making cloud-based enterprise file sync and share offerings a better way for enterprises "to gain the benefits of mobile-friendly, secure file-sharing technology without the burden of migrating content to yet another repository."

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