IntraLinks Steps Up To The Plate - Because The World Needs Another File Sharing Offering, Right?

Posted: Jan 10 2014, 10:51am CST | by , in News

IntraLinks Steps Up To The Plate - Because The World Needs Another File Sharing Offering, Right?
Photo Credit: Forbes

You’d think that we’d have already had all the possible file sharing use-cases covered – when thinking about the different file sharing, backup and synchronization products I need to juggle a multitude of vendors and products in my head – Dropbox, SugarSync, EMC Syncplicity, Box, Citrix ShareFile, Microsoft SkyDrive, Google Drive, Egnyte, Oxygen Cloud and on, and on and on. One would be forgiven for thinking that every conceivable niche would be covered.

But apparently not, or at least that’s what Intralinks is hoping – the NYSE listed company is focused on inter-enterprise content management and collaboration solutions and boasts of 2.7M individual users and 99% of the Fortune 1000 using their product – of course that’s an easy claim to make and hard to disprove but let’s move on to the latest announcement from the company.

Intralinks is releasing its VIA Enterprise product, a solution that it claims goes beyond traditional file sync and share and supports the “complete lifecycle management for the extended enterprise”. Which sounds very much like marketing mumbo-jumbo. Even worse is a direct quote from the press release which promises that:

Intralinks VIA is a secure and scalable enterprise collaboration solution that helps organizations take lifetime control of their most important information and frees employees to reach new levels of productivity

Essentially VIA takes the sync and share paradigm we know and love, and gives it enterprise-grade security. Over the top of that they morph a content-management paradigm and offer the ability to create specific content repositories (Intralinks Exchanges) which integrate with parallel content repositories on Microsoft SharePoint. Essentially you’ve got sync and share tied to the document management solution and with a dose of enterprise audit and control on top of it.

Or, in other words, you’ve pretty much got what most other vendors promise to deliver.

However, not wanting to dismiss the offering, and having had a good conversation with the company previously, I wanted to dig in to a customer story from Intralinks to get an idea of whether there is real value there or simply a “me too” offering. I was pointed in the direction of Essex (the company, not the place) a 60-something year old supplier to aerospace, defense and emergency services. The company seems a perfect candidate for distributed file sharing – 375 employees spread across four distinct manufacturing plants along with regular interactions with other manufacturers and with their many customers means that file sharing is a daily problem for the company.

Previously the company had been utilizing an in-house FTP site, along with some rogue use of Dropbox. Network manager Donna Wurth wasn’t happy with this scenario – pointing to the strict requirements their defense customers have in terms of file expiration dates and geographical restrictions on storage. The company has to regularly share very large and sensitive files with external contacts—engineering drawings, sales documents, marketing materials, and even purchase orders. They also didn’t want to bear the overhead of maintaining their clunky old FTP system – they needed a simple, secure and scalable solution.

Essex provided me with a list of reasons for why they chose Intralinks over their incumbent solutions. The reasons are obvious – access, the ability to outsource the provision of the solution, cross-platform support, security and guaranteed US-located data storage. Those are all valid reasons but they’re also requirements that would have been met by dozens of other vendors – Box, Huddle, ShareFile and many others can pull similar case-studies out of the hat.

And therein lies the problem – file sync and share is definitely not a zero-sum game, but at the same time is there really an opportunity for quite so many vendors in the space? I tend to think not and can’t help but predict consolidation and rationalization in the industry.

Connect with Ben on Twitter @benkepes | LinkedIn AngelList

Source: Forbes

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