Magic Quadrant for Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing

2 July 2014 ID:G00261766
Analyst(s): Monica Basso, Jeffrey Mann, Charles Smulders


The enterprise file synchronization and sharing market is maturing, which will benefit IT leaders, and mobile and collaboration planners. EFSS capabilities continue to standardize, forcing players to differentiate mobile content and collaboration.

Market Definition/Description

This document was revised on 14 July 2014. The document you are viewing is the corrected version. For more information, see the Corrections page on

EFSS refers to a range of on-premises or cloud-based capabilities that enable individuals to synchronize and share documents, photos, videos and files across multiple devices, such as smartphones, tablets and PCs. File sharing can be within the organization, as well as externally (e.g., with partners and customers) or on a mobile device as data sharing among apps. Security and collaboration support are critical capabilities of EFSS to address enterprise priorities.

Beyond file synchronization, sharing and access, EFSS offerings may include different levels of support for:

  • Mobility, with native apps for a variety of mobile smartphones, tablets, notebooks and desktops, as well as Web browser support.
  • Security, for protection of data on the device, in transit and in cloud services (or servers), such as password protection, remote wipe, data encryption, data loss prevention, digital rights management (DRM), access tracking and reporting. Mature products ensure that files leaving the sharing location are DRM-encrypted and only readable by those authorized to access the data. Audit and compliance support are also present in complete products.
  • Administration and management, including integration with an Active Directory and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) policy enforcement.
  • Back-end server integration, e.g., with SharePoint and other corporate platforms. Integration is achieved through connectors (e.g., based on the Content Management Interoperability Services [CMIS] standard and APIs).
  • Content manipulation, such as file editing, PDF annotations and note taking.
  • Collaboration, such as cooperative editing on a shared document using change tracking and comments; and document-based workflow process support.
  • Simplicity and usability, with optimized UIs and interactions, such as file drag and drop and file open in applications.
  • Storage, i.e., cloud-based EFSS services often include cloud storage as part of the bundle to implement the EFSS repository. Software EFSS products, instead, may integrate with repositories on-premises or be implemented with a separate repository on-site.

Typical architectures for EFSS offerings are:

  • Cloud: Corporate files are accessed via mobile devices, or shared and are stored in the provider's cloud. Organizations that want to replace the personal cloud services adopted by employees with an enterprise-class alternative under IT control, while preserving the user experience and enhancing mobile collaboration, prefer the cloud method.
  • On-premises: The remote access, synchronization and sharing component is deployed on-premises and integrates with corporate data repositories, without file replicas. This method is preferred by organizations under strict regulations about data storage.
  • Hybrid: The user and device authentication, security and search mechanisms are implemented in the provider's cloud. Files and documents are kept in their original location, or can be in third-party clouds. Organizations that want to simplify mobile users' access to corporate data through the cloud, without creating data replicas in someone else's cloud, prefer the hybrid method.

There are two types of EFSS offerings:

  • Destinations — Stand-alone products with file sync and share as a core capability, which represents a new purchase for an organization.
  • Extensions — File sync and share capabilities added, and wrapped around established products or applications — e.g., for collaboration, content management or storage. Organizations can use extensions as part of the broader platform (see "Destinations and Wraparounds Will Reshape the Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing Market").

Magic Quadrant

Figure 1. Magic Quadrant for Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing
Figure 1.Magic Quadrant for Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing

Source: Gartner (July 2014)

Vendor Strengths and Cautions


Accellion ( is a private company based in Palo Alto, California. Founded in 1999, it operates internationally, with offices in London and Singapore. The company originally served the traditional file sharing and managed file transfer market. Since 2010, it has strongly refocused on mobile file synchronization and sharing. Accellion has grown its visibility and track record, particularly for midsize to large regulated or security-conscious organizations. Accellion's kiteworks is a destination EFSS product, including access to enterprise content servers, with security and management. Its latest release enhanced the user experience and architecture. The user experience has been built with the mobile platform, rather than the PC, being the first design point. The architecture employs a three-level model that separates the Web, application and data layers. The kiteworks solution can be deployed as a private cloud on-premises (virtual appliance on-premises), as a hosted cloud or hybrid cloud (mixing on-premises and hosted).

Accellion is a good fit for organizations prioritizing their EFSS initiatives for mobile experiences, while ensuring data protection and compliance, particularly those operating in regulated markets, such as financial services, healthcare and government.

  • Accellion offers a modern mobile UI designed for touch-based interaction. It includes innovative features, such as a touchscreen-based function to be visually dragged and dropped among folders on a mobile device (via the kiteworks Move Tray).
  • Accellion offers a broad range of deployment options, including on-premises, private cloud, hosted private cloud (via Amazon Web Services), public cloud and hybrid. The hybrid model can combine the on-premises component with public and private cloud services.
  • Accellion has multiple compliance certifications in highly regulated markets, including certifications for compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
  • Accellion supports sharing unlimited size files, e.g., files larger than 1,000GB (1TB) — a critical feature for end users dealing with large media files, such as videos, source code or computer-aided design (CAD; e.g., engineering groups, graphics shops and video/audio production houses).
  • Accellion's direct presence is limited outside the U.S., compared with some competitors; however, it has multiple distributors, such as Dimension Data and Compuware, and resells on a global level.
  • Occasionally, references indicated issues with allocated storage space after the initial purchase — with the per-user storage space being reduced after signing the deal.
  • Collaborative editing capabilities are not yet available within the kiteworks mobile application, although they are under development for future releases.
  • Mobile management and policy enforcement capabilities in kiteworks are limited; however, they can be enhanced through integration with enterprise mobility management (EMM) product vendors, such as Good Technology and MobileIron.


Acronis (, founded in 2003, is a private company based in Woburn, Massachusetts, with operations in Europe, the Asia/Pacific region, North America and South America. Its core business is enterprise backup and recovery software (see "Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup/Recovery Software"). Its mobility business unit originates from its 2012 acquisition of GroupLogic, a provider of file sharing and managed file transfer technology. Acronis Access, the company's destination EFSS offering, combines the former GroupLogic's mobilEcho and activEcho into a single product. The product supports access to enterprise content servers, with security and management. It is normally deployed on-premises, but also can be in private and public cloud models.

Acronis is a viable option for organizations that are prioritizing mobile devices to raise employees' productivity, but have concerns about security and control. Acronis Access is a good choice for companies that are looking for a backup/recovery solution, as well as core capabilities for file sync and sharing, or already have investments in Acronis.

  • Acronis Access supports audit logs for control and compliance, and is certified for HIPAA and FISMA compliance.
  • Acronis has a strong base of global resellers and distributors to meet the needs of small or midsize business (SMB) customers.
  • Customer experience is very positive based on reference feedback, especially for ease of use and level of client service support.
  • Acronis has demonstrated a strong presence in regulated industries, such as financial services, legal, energy and government, and the education sector.
  • Integration capabilities are limited — e.g., CMIS support for broad back-end integration and APIs for integration with third-party client applications are not available. Social collaboration capabilities are limited.
  • There is no native Windows Phone client available yet.
  • No DRM capability is supported yet to protect shared documents once downloaded on an unmanaged device (e.g., to revoke permissions to open, view and edit a document).


AirWatch ( is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, and was founded in 2003. The company has a worldwide presence with offices in all regions, and is a leading vendor in the EMM market (see "Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Mobility Management Suites"). VMware (with headquarters in Palo Alto, California, and founded in 1998) completed the acquisition of AirWatch in February 2014. VMware is a leading vendor in virtualization technology, expanding its end-user computing offerings with mobility. EFSS is a core element of VMware's vision of an end-user computing environment centered on mobility, collaboration and the cloud. AirWatch's Secure Content Locker (SCL) is an EFSS destination product with security and management capabilities, available on-premises or in cloud instances. During the past 12 months, it has been sold mostly as part of EMM deals.

AirWatch is viable for organizations that are considering EFSS as part of an enterprise mobility initiative, and are making EMM decisions. It is also viable for organizations that have AirWatch's mobile device management (MDM) deployment in place and plan to add basic EFSS capabilities, or to provide a secure EFSS capability for employees on managed mobile devices.

  • AirWatch's operations are mature, and cloud services run in the company's data centers in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • AirWatch's customer base is global. The company has a strong presence in markets outside the U.S., through local sales teams, channel partners and resellers. VMware's acquisition adds the potential to scale up AirWatch's capabilities in sales, operations and local support.
  • SCL integrates with AirWatch's EMM offering and adds the benefit of rich administration and user management capabilities. SCL will become part of VMware Horizon deals, replacing the previous Horizon Files component.
  • SCL supports dynamic content watermark management. IT administrators can set rules for applying watermarks to specific documents before sharing or editing the content, based on users, groups or document types.
  • SCL adoption so far has been limited mostly to initiatives to extend an MDM deployment with EFSS capabilities, focusing on mobility priorities. The uptake of SCL as a destination EFSS product for broader use cases, including collaboration and back-end integration, is still immature.
  • Some references indicated occasional issues with product maturity and performance, limited user friendliness and intuitiveness in the UI, lack of central administration for the EFSS capability only, product delivery and support.
  • The separate pricing of SCL and reallocation of features in the new product have prompted some MDM customers to question how original license agreements map to the new product. The new SCL pricing model with three packages brings more clarity.
  • EMC's parent relationship with VMware might raise concerns about the overlap between AirWatch's SCL and EMC's Syncplicity that could trigger product rationalization scenarios. VMware announced it will incorporate SCL in its Horizon product line, and plans further product investments.


Founded in 2005 and headquartered in Maidenhead, England, and San Mateo, California, Alfresco ( is an open-source ECM provider (see "Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management"). Alfresco can be deployed on-premises, in a public or private cloud, or in a hybrid model. Alfresco considers file synchronization and sharing as basic features of a modern ECM system. Its EFSS capabilities are integrated features of the broader ECM platform that cannot be purchased separately; therefore, Gartner considers it an EFSS extension offering. Nonetheless, it can integrate with other content repositories (for example, SharePoint) through CMIS.

Alfresco is a good fit for organizations that have deployed Alfresco as their ECM system, or are looking to do so, and plan to add mobile access and EFSS capabilities to support extended use cases.

  • Alfresco provides server-to-server synchronization as a native capability.
  • Alfresco integrates EFSS capabilities with the ECM repository (e.g., the ability to surf documents through tasks) to support business process workflows, management and compliance.
  • Its global presence has grown through an increased number of diverse partners for consulting and implementation.
  • The openness in its general approach provides more choices and opportunities for building other capabilities on top of its platform.
  • To use these file sync and share capabilities, an organization needs to have Alfresco as the ECM platform in place.
  • Finding technical staff to support Alfresco was considered challenging by some references.
  • There is no dedicated client for Windows Phone or Windows 8.


Box ( is based in Los Altos, California. Founded in 2005, the company has international presence, with a few offices outside North America. Box is among the most well-known of the EFSS players in the market today. According to its April 2014, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Form S-1 filing in preparation for a $250 million initial public offering (IPO), Box has more than 25 million registered users, and more than 34,000 organizations that are paying clients. To date, the company has been funded by multiple venture capital firms. Box provides secure cloud-based file sync, share and collaboration services as freemium and premium services. Box is an EFSS destination offering, available only in the public cloud. It focuses on balancing a simple user experience with the security and administrative needs of the organization. Box has gained attention in the enterprise market in response to employees adopting personal cloud services, because of similarities with those personal cloud services that employees have adopted in the usability, public cloud model, and the enterprise and security focus.

Box is a viable option for public cloud-friendly organizations that want to use file sync and share as an opportunity to re-engineer business processes.

  • The company's vision of cloud-based enterprise content and collaboration, business process and workflow support is centered on cloud storage and secure EFSS capabilities. It provides APIs for application integration, and customization of the UI. A mobile and optimized user experience is core to that vision. Box aims to become the data backbone in the cloud for business system applications.
  • Box has thousands of partners, including application developers, ECM vendors and hardware vendors whose apps/systems are tightly integrated with Box's offerings. The OneCloud initiative brings a variety of apps for content collaboration on mobile devices. Box has a strong channel program with over 1,000 partners that resell and build Box solutions globally.
  • References indicated that Box offers a great user experience, ease of use and support; they rated highly the API that enables integrating Box with internal business processes or building third-party services.
  • Data protection is supported by filtering data containing sensitive information. Enhancements to the cloud encryption capabilities will put customers in control of the encryption keys for data stored in the cloud.
  • According to Box's Form S-1 filing for a $250 million IPO, while its revenue grew to $124 million in the year ending 31 January 2014, up from $59 million the prior year, it lost $159 million on a total spending of $257 million in fiscal 2014. The size of last year's loss raises concerns in the market about the company's financial performance. While high levels of investment are common at this stage for high-growth SaaS vendors, Box will have to prove its ability to reach profitability in the near future.
  • Despite implementations in proprietary data centers, Box's offering is available only in a public cloud model. No hybrid model for data storage on-premises is supported. The movement or replication of corporate content in Box's cloud repository is not a viable option for some IT organizations.
  • The freemium model may create problems when an organization decides to purchase Box as a corporate service for employees. If they have associated a personal Box account to a corporate email address, the additional corporate Box account may create management issues. If a personal account is migrated to a corporate account, it's the employee's responsibility to migrate personal content into an alternative service so he doesn't lose his data when leaving the company.


Citrix ( is a public company based in Santa Clara, California, and founded in 1989. Citrix has more than 9,200 employees and has offices in North America and South America, EMEA and the Asia/Pacific region. Citrix is a leading player in client desktop virtualization, workspaces, collaboration and mobility. Citrix ShareFile is a destination EFSS product, originating from the acquisition of ShareFile in 2011. It is based on a hybrid architecture, with synchronization and sharing functions provided as a service. Corporate data storage can be kept either in the ShareFile cloud repository, on third-party clouds or on-premises (through Citrix StorageZone). ShareFile has a track record in regulated or security-conscious organizations aiming to enable secure mobile access to corporate files. During the past 12 months, ShareFile's adoption has grown, particularly as part of the broader Citrix EMM solution, as well as its integration with other Citrix products, such as XenDesktop, XenApp and NetScaler. Although ShareFile is a stand-alone product, it is included as an entitlement of Citrix XenMobile Enterprise Edition.

Citrix is a viable option for organizations seeking to enable EFSS capabilities across a broad end-user computing scenario, from mobile devices to virtual desktop clients (based on Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp), and for organizations undertaking EMM investments.

  • Citrix ShareFile is integrated with other Citrix offerings — such as Citrix Receiver, Citrix XenDesktop and Citrix XenMobile — and is viable for bring your own PC (BYOPC) programs, because it supports access from a virtual desktop client.
  • Enhanced content editing capabilities are supported as a result of the technology gained from the Citrix acquisition of Byte Squared, whose product is now embedded into the mobile application as ShareFile Editing.
  • It supports compliance with regulations such as PCI, HIPAA and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH). Customers give positive feedback on ease of installation, quality of service, uptime and responsiveness.
  • Pricing plans, per user per month, are competitive. Citrix offers a 30-day free trial for enterprises, and ShareFile QuickEdit for free.
  • Customers report a lack of capabilities for editing and collaborating on documents in the Web interface. Enhanced collaboration features, such as file check-in/check-out, are available for SharePoint only. Support for additional data repositories is still missing.
  • Despite the rich set of policy management and security features, DRM capability is not yet supported to protect shared documents once downloaded on an unmanaged device — for example, to revoke permissions to open, view and edit a document.
  • The support service level is not optimal for customers outside the U.S. for enhanced technical support. Level 2 support is available only 24 hours, five days a week.
  • ShareFile is not deeply integrated into Citrix collaboration products Podio and GoToMeeting.


Dropbox ( is a private company based in San Francisco, California, and founded in 2007. Dropbox is one of the largest file sync and share companies in the world. It reports that 300 million users have brought Dropbox into 4 million businesses. Dropbox is widely deployed in the enterprise market, with millions of individuals using it in their workplaces. Dropbox provides a public cloud-only storage and file synchronization and share service offered with the freemium model. Initially focused on individuals, Dropbox recently has devoted considerable effort to develop enterprise-targeted offerings. In 2013, the company launched Dropbox for Business, rolling out new business features. These include administrator views of activity, separation of personal and business data into different accounts, and remote wiping of business data from users' devices. Dropbox for Business is considered an EFSS destination offering.

Dropbox is a viable offering for organizations that aim to enable modern collaboration in their workplaces, worrying less about IT control and data protection, and concentrating, instead, on user satisfaction.

  • Dropbox is considered the benchmark for best-in-class ease of use.
  • Employees in most organizations use Dropbox unofficially, often in connection with tablets and personal devices. Its large consumer base means that many employees will be familiar with it, which should make deployment easy.
  • Fast and reliable synchronization is deployed to a large global customer base through several methods, including LAN sync, delta sync and automatic bandwidth optimization.
  • A robust platform ecosystem, with over 300,000 apps, enables Dropbox integration in corporate workflows (e.g., document editing, collaboration and content management).
  • Enhanced security features, such as content-aware data loss prevention, built-in DRM encryption, HIPAA and FISMA certifications are missing. However, levels of security for cloud-based data and service protection are available.
  • Only a public cloud architecture is available; a hybrid option is not possible.
  • Administrator tools are relatively basic — e.g., administrators cannot define whether individual files or folders can be shared, or with whom; a user cannot be on two Dropbox teams.
  • There is no native Windows Phone client available yet.


Egnyte ( is a private company, founded in 2008, and based in Mountain View, California. Its focus is on the enterprise market, providing a destination EFSS product based on a hybrid architecture that combines local on-premises storage with a public cloud repository. Egnyte offers full colocation cloud storage facilities in the U.S. and Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Its offering is available as: (1) Egnyte Cloud File Server, a public cloud-based solution that provides enterprise administrative controls combined with end-user access, file sharing and mobility; (2) Egnyte Storage Sync, which integrates the cloud with on-premises storage, providing continuous synchronization; and (3) Egnyte Storage Connect, which provides remote access and sharing to data held purely on-premises.

Egnyte is a viable option for enterprises that require flexibility as to where files are stored and which files can be shared — for example, distributed workforces filed and/or shared at company headquarters, remote offices and on mobile devices, and in heterogeneous and distributed on-premises storage environments.

  • Egnyte is focused 100% on enterprise players; it has no consumer offering.
  • The solution integrates well with third-party back-end storage infrastructure, enabling mobile access to a variety of on-premises or cloud repositories.
  • Egnyte is open to partnering where it does not have the skills in-house (e.g., partnering with Jive to provide social collaboration). It partners with Google and others for enabling document editing on mobile devices.
  • Egnyte supports server-to-server encryption to provide mirrored network drives at branch offices, for example.
  • Egnyte launched an on-premises model in April 2014, where the access layer and the data are kept on-premises only, but it is still unproven in the market.
  • References reported support issues in Europe. Egnyte continues to invest in its facilities and channel partnerships to further expand its capabilities and presence in the European region.
  • Egnyte is not FISMA-compliant, as it does not target government accounts.


EMC ( is a public company founded in 1979 and based in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. In 2012, EMC acquired EFSS vendor Syncplicity, which is now a business unit of EMC. EMC has a presence in 86 countries through sales offices and partners, including distributors, system integrators and service providers. EMC's portfolio includes storage, ECM and security. Syncplicity is a destination EFSS product with security and management capabilities. Its delivery model is hybrid, as storage can be on-premises or off-premises in clouds, using a policy-driven hybrid cloud (StorageVaults). Syncplicity's unique approach to synchronization can be applied to any folder in the file system, instead of the traditional "magic folder" approach that some EFSS vendors take. Syncplicity integrates with EMC products Isilon, ViPR and VNX; third-party storage arrays that support Network File System (NFS); and EMC Documentum through a connector based on native APIs.

Syncplicity is a viable option for organizations looking for a hybrid EFSS architecture to provide secure mobile access to a combination of on-premises and cloud repositories, especially if EMC storage or content management products are present. Organizations that need "any folder" synchronization should make this option a priority.

  • The modern UI is designed in native mobile apps and desktop clients for an enhanced user experience. Content editing and annotations for Microsoft Office documents are supported via embedded functions in the mobile applications.
  • Standards-based APIs enable enterprise customers and software developers to extend Syncplicity services and integrate them into business processes and workflows.
  • References indicated EMC is flexible, meets customers' specific requirements, and engages the engineering and product development teams to identify improvements and new features. Most references reported an easy and quick deployment experience, including single sign-on integration and a smooth installation process.
  • Growing integration between Syncplicity and other EMC products will strengthen Syncplicity's strategic role versus AirWatch's SCL, if rationalization scenarios materialize.
  • Despite EMC's Ability to Execute in the market, Syncplicity has a limited presence and installed base, compared with the competition, particularly in North America.
  • Some references reported a lack of open APIs on mobile devices to allow for easy application development and integration with other mobile applications.
  • CMIS support for ECM integration is missing.
  • Integration with Microsoft Active Directory is limited to single-user accounts and is not available for group accounts. Some references reported glitches in applying Active Directory permissions to Syncplicity folders.


Google ( is a public company founded in 1998 and based in Mountain View, California. Google Drive is Google's file storage and synchronization service launched in April 2012. It is cloud-based, available primarily through integration with Google Apps for Business. The service is available through a freemium model for consumers, or on a per-month, per-user basis for organizations. Google offers Google Drive to large and midsize organizations as part of its Google Apps for Business suite through a global direct sales force. Technical specialists, as well as a network of authorized resellers, support the offering. Small businesses are served through online, self-service channels. Gartner considers Google Drive an EFSS extension, since its file sync and share product is generally sold as part of a broader collaboration portfolio. Google Drive for Work, which is sold independently of Google Apps for Business, was launched at the end of June 2014, and, therefore, was not considered in this evaluation.

Google is a good fit for companies that are migrating email and other collaboration tools to the Google Apps suite or prioritizing on cloud storage services.

  • Google Drive has good integration with third-party cloud-based services, such as DocuSign and HelloFax, and offers a software development kit for app developers.
  • Google Drive has strong integration with the Google Apps suite, including Google Docs, Calendar, Mail and messaging, for editing and collaboration.
  • Google offers high availability through its data center expertise.
  • Google Drive's administrator features are not as mature as other pure enterprise offerings in areas such as reporting and control.
  • Its integration with on-premises content management systems and network drives is limited.
  • A native application for Windows Phone is not available.
  • Some references expressed concerns about the high frequency of updates that Google delivers.


Hightail (, headquartered in Campbell, California, with regional offices in the U.K. and Australia, was founded in 2004 as YouSendIt. The company changed its name to Hightail in July 2013, to better reflect its broadening offerings. Hightail offers a public cloud-based file synchronization and sharing solution only. According to the company, it has more than 45 million registered users. Hightail's product is offered in a freemium model and is available in five European languages. Key markets for Hightail include SMBs, as well as media and entertainment, legal, advertising and marketing, and architecture/engineering segments. Growing its enterprise business has been a major focus for Hightail during the past year. Hightail's focus is on the file sync and share market, and, therefore, is considered a destination product in this market.

Hightail is a good fit for organizations (excluding government) that are looking for a focused, easy-to-use file sync and share solution.

  • Hightail has a strong consumerlike look and feel because of its heritage, making adoption by employees in an organization easy.
  • It has a significant international user base and is able to store data in the U.S., the U.K. and the Netherlands.
  • Hightail's offering has HIPAA compliance certification, in addition to many security and control features.
  • There is a strong focus on simplicity and user experience in the client UI strategy. The vendor considers the user experience key to driving adoption within organizations.
  • Hightail has been traditionally focused on SMBs. However, it has several notable large enterprise deployments, and has been investing in this area.
  • Hightail's product lacks social collaboration capabilities, such as comments, ratings, tasks and activity streams.
  • Native capabilities for back-end integration are limited, but further integrations can be achieved by partnering with content connector providers, such as SkySync.
  • DRM encryption for shared files and content editing are not supported.


Huddle (, founded in 2006, is headquartered in London, and San Francisco, California, with offices in New York and Washington, D.C. It provides a cloud-based secure store, access, share, synchronization and collaboration service to enterprise and government clients. Huddle's public version is a multitenant-hosted cloud and accounts for the majority of deployments. Exceptions include Huddle IL3, which is a private stand-alone instance of Huddle (private cloud, multitenant hosted) used by the U.K. government. File sync and share capabilities are part of a broader suite, including document and project management; therefore, Gartner considers Huddle an EFSS extension offering.

Huddle is a good fit for enterprises and governments that want to go beyond basic file sync and share capabilities to empower their users with broader project management and team features, or have already made investments in Huddle.

  • Huddle has built integrated, basic project management, task assignment and some social capabilities into its consumer-user-driven interface.
  • Underpinning Huddle's platform is a recommendation engine that uses learning algorithms based on workers' actions to select relevant files and push them to connected devices, potentially to simplify work.
  • Huddle has FISMA, HIPAA and U.K. Pan Government Security Compliance accreditations.
  • The Huddle product is available in 15 languages, including English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Japanese.
  • Huddle does not have a hybrid solution, and does not support the Windows Phone platform.
  • Huddle currently has hosting partners only in the U.S. and the U.K., which may raise data privacy or compliance concerns for organizations in other countries.
  • References reported that the Admin console could be improved — for example, reporting capabilities.


IBM ( is a public company based in Armonk, New York, with extensive operations around the world. The company's EFSS offering is an extension of Connections social software products that are available on-premises and as public cloud offerings. In addition to the Connections-based capabilities, IBM acquired Aspera in January 2014. Aspera provides high-speed file transfer infrastructure technologies. IBM will attractive to customers using the Connections products or looking for EFSS capabilities within the context of a larger social, collaboration and content management suite.

IBM is a viable option for clients that have made, or are considering, investments in its Connections product.

  • The EFSS offering has good integration with the IBM Connections social software product, which provides a wide breadth of collaboration and content management features.
  • Product and third-party package support is available from the large IBM ecosystem.
  • IBM supports on-premises, public cloud, private cloud and hybrid deployments (mixing on-premises and hosted cloud data).
  • IBM's EFSS capabilities are available primarily within the context of the larger Connections product, which includes many features beyond EFSS.
  • Support for a wide list of related products and deployment models means that IBM's offering can be more complex than those of competitors that serve more limited situations.
  • While generally satisfied with the product, some references reported frustration at the speed at which new features, such as Mac OS support, become available.


Intralinks (, founded in 1996, is headquartered in New York, New York. It operates globally, with offices in North America, South America, Europe and the Asia/Pacific region. Intralinks enables enterprises to manage and share business content in external, complex use cases with sensitive data and complex workflows needs, such as merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions, loan syndication, asset management and life sciences clinical trials. In 2013, Intralinks launched a general-purpose EFSS offering, broadening its market reach beyond its initial sectors (finance and healthcare). Intralinks Via is a destination EFSS offering, available for general purposes. Intralinks' EFSS capability is the core of other specialized products that offer specific vertical functionalities (e.g., virtual data room in Dealspace). Intralinks is delivered through a private cloud, with two colocated facilities that contain all data and processing (one active, one standby). A hybrid architecture is supported with the client-attached storage, which allows data storage in alternate locations (e.g., in local countries). The acquisition of docTrackr added plug-in DRM capabilities free of charge.

Intralinks is a viable EFSS option for organizations that want to support EFSS in specialized use cases requiring sensitive data sharing with external parties, particularly in the financial, legal and life sciences sectors, with private cloud deployments.

  • Intralinks offers broad integration capabilities with enterprise application servers and content repositories through connectors, REST APIs and integration adapters to establish a secure connection from on-premises to the Intralinks service.
  • In addition to the general-purpose EFSS capabilities, Intralinks provides specialized applications built on top of the EFSS core to support specific use cases (e.g., financial sector) focused on external content sharing.
  • DRM encryption is available to protect native Microsoft Office and PDF files, and enforce control over download, copy, screen capture or printing. A protected view of documents in browsers is also supported. Access to shared documents can be revoked and removed; document unshare is available to revoke all accesses.
  • References indicated that Intralinks' EFSS implementation is usually smooth and easy, even in complex deployments involving multiple parties and a heavily regulated environment. Vendor support, flexibility and responsiveness, along with the end-user experience, are rated highly positive.
  • Overlapping offerings with Intralinks Via sometimes make it complex to figure out which products are most appropriate to support identified use cases.
  • The contractual approach and pricing have limitations. References sometimes indicated that commercial terms were a major issue and that the vendor utilized product gaps as an upsell tool.
  • Intralinks does not support embedded content editing in its application.


Microsoft ( is a publicly traded company based in Redmond, Washington. The vendor rebranded its file sync and share product from SkyDrive Pro, which was launched in 2012, to OneDrive for Business in January 2014. OneDrive for Business is a separate product from OneDrive, which is targeted at consumers and does not have enterprise control capabilities. OneDrive for Business is part of Microsoft Office 365. In April 2014, OneDrive for Business was unbundled as part of SharePoint or Office 365 and is now sold also as a separate package. It is a cloud-based service as a stand-alone offering, but can be run on-premises if deployed as part of SharePoint 2013. Microsoft OneDrive for Business is considered an EFSS product extension, because its file sync and share product is part of a broader portfolio (Office 365).

Microsoft is a good fit for companies that have invested significantly in Microsoft client devices and server platforms, such as SharePoint or Office 365.

  • OneDrive for Business has good integration with SharePoint, on-premises and in the cloud (Office 365)
  • The product also has good integration with mobile and desktop Microsoft Office and applications for document creation, collaboration and sharing.
  • There is the potential to integrate OneDrive for Business with other Microsoft products in the ecosystem, such as Yammer, if they have been deployed.
  • OneDrive for Business is Windows-centric; there is no native Mac client, and the iOS and Android experiences are less rich than on Windows. OneDrive for Business has a 2GB file size limit.
  • There is some confusion regarding how OneDrive for Business and SharePoint fit together.
  • According to references, getting specific support for OneDrive for Business can be challenging, because of Microsoft's large portfolios.
  • OneDrive for Business does not support selective wipe for mobile devices. Through Exchange ActiveSync, IT administrators can remotely wipe the entire device.


Novell ( is headquartered in Provo, Utah, and has a presence in many countries. Its infrastructure software portfolio is focused on endpoint management, collaboration, and file and networking services. Filr, part of Novell's file and networking services portfolio, is an on-premises solution focused on accessing and sharing files stored on corporate file servers, internally and externally. It currently supports enterprise file servers and network-attached storage (NAS) devices. Users can sync any folder from the back-end file servers, with permission granted by the Filr administrator. Gartner considers Novell Filr to be an EFSS wraparound/extension, because it can be part of Novell's broader collaboration offering. However, Novell Filr is also a stand-alone product that works with Windows-compatible file serves or NAS devices.

Novell Filr is a good fit for companies that do not want to replicate files in the cloud, and need basic sync and share capabilities with no editing capability.

  • Being an on-premises solution, Novell Filr keeps data behind the firewall and removes the need to replicate in the cloud.
  • Novell Filr is able to access file servers and NAS devices directly.
  • Its simplicity should make for an easy adoption by users.
  • While Novell Filr can render documents through a viewer, there is no capability for editing them.
  • Beyond file servers and NAS devices, Filr back-end integration is limited and does not support SharePoint.
  • While the Filr sync client runs on any Windows version (including Windows 8.1), the client doesn't have Windows 8 touch interface capabilities.


ownCloud ( is an open-source-based company that provides enterprise file sync and share software. According to ownCloud, there are 1.3 million users, and more than 100,000 downloads occur each week. The solution is available in a free-of-charge Community Edition, and a paid-subscription-based Enterprise Edition. The Enterprise Edition provides organizations with ownCloud software release certifications, tools and support. This includes support for SLAs, plug-in applications, patches, performance tuning guidelines, troubleshooting and access to ownCloud experts. The license for the Enterprise Edition allows users to make code changes without submitting them back to the open-source community. This EFSS product does not use an additional repository for sharing files; instead, it integrates with original enterprise repositories. ownCloud is a destination EFSS product that can be deployed on-premises (or hosted in third-party clouds). Hybrid architectures are supported as well, integrating data from public and private locations.

ownCloud is a good fit for companies that want to run EFSS on-premises, keeping control of and managing the system and their files, leaving content in their current location. These companies are also comfortable investing in — and have the skills in-house to work with — open-source software.

  • The product is open source, which enables organizations to influence the direction of the product and extend it.
  • Technical integration is offered with SharePoint, Jive, Red Hat and several other platforms, in some cases, with joint commercial initiatives for selling ownCloud. ownCloud supports CMIS and provides APIs to develop back-end system integration.
  • The storage-agnostic architecture allows IT to store files on corporate servers, externally hosted servers or the cloud, such as Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). IT can choose on-premises, hybrid or cloud storage, as it fits. Integration also is available for personal cloud storage services, such as Dropbox and G-Drive.
  • ownCloud is a small player in terms of employees and revenue, compared with other EFSS vendors, and has limited experience with large deployments. Its geographical presence is limited to the U.S. and Germany.
  • Security capabilities rely on third-party MDM and mobile application management products that companies need to purchase separately. This includes selective remote wipe (available in beta release) for mobile devices. Encryption of data at rest on the device is available natively.
  • References reported challenges when integrating the system with large complex operational environments, in scaling up the deployment and in the process of updates/upgrades.


WatchDox ( is a private company based in Palo Alto, California, and founded in 2008. WatchDox maintains an international presence, with offices in Israel and the U.K. WatchDox offers an EFSS destination product with enhanced security and content collaboration features. The product can be deployed on-premises, in a public cloud or in a private cloud with multiple hybrid options through a virtual appliance, and can be integrated with corporate applications through APIs. WatchDox launched a freemium service, LockDox, in March 2014, enabling anyone to send a controlled file to anyone else. Some of the unique elements of WatchDox technology include the secure viewers, apps and rights management features. Due to rich security and collaboration capabilities, WatchDox has a growing presence in the enterprise market, especially in regulated sectors such as finance.

WatchDox is a viable option for midsize and large organizations that are in regulated or in sensitive vertical markets, have legacy infrastructures and content repositories (e.g., SharePoint), and have a relatively mature mobility strategy (i.e., they have implemented EMM to some extent).

  • WatchDox has exceptional document encryption (based on DRM) and controls on shared files. The client UI offers an elegant user experience based on consumer-style design, while security and administrative features are hidden to avoid negatively impacting the UI.
  • It offers rich content editing for complete mobile file productivity, including a secure viewer, annotations on any document type, search, a local editor and app streaming for more complex functions.
  • Collaboration capabilities are mature. References indicated that the product is user-friendly and intuitive, and requires no training for the users to incorporate it into their basic workflow processes. WatchDox can be integrated into complex workflows and business processes without additional coding, programming or changes to the system.
  • WatchDox is a relatively small player in terms of employees and revenue, compared with other vendors. Supporting large on-premises implementations with complex requirements has been challenging for the vendor on a few occasions.
  • Some references reported challenges in integration with third-party systems, particularly with Active Directory and Web Proxy. LDAP integration is missing. References reported potential lack of consistency between WatchDox's cloud and on-premises solutions.
  • Some references reported occasional fragility in the system. Frequent new releases to fix problems sometimes introduce new challenges. A strong quality assurance (QA) process seems to be missing.


Workshare ( is a private company headquartered in London, and founded in 1999. It has operations in EMEA, North America, South America and the Asia/Pacific region. Workshare merged with SkyDox in November 2012. The company focuses on a document-centric collaboration platform and has significant presence in regulated sectors such as legal, professional services, finance and accounting, and pharmaceuticals. Workshare is a destination product, with security and collaboration capabilities, available in public cloud or hybrid offerings.

Workshare is a viable option for organizations with an ECM system that want to securely collaborate on high-value content and documents, using a hybrid or public cloud architecture inside and outside the corporate firewall.

  • The user experience is elegant and simple, and helps drive rapid and pervasive adoption.
  • Enterprises that commonly work with complex and long documents likely will appreciate Workshare's redlining and metadata scrubbing tools.
  • Workshare the product has a rich feature set to support group communication in social, document-centric and co-authoring scenarios, with a focus on mobile productivity.
  • The product features content-aware data loss prevension controls at the content and metadata levels. Metadata can be stripped from content in accordance with policy when documents are shared via email, its mobile client or third-party online tools. This unique set of controls bolsters the product's ability to prevent data leakage.
  • Workshare is a relatively small player in terms of employees and revenue, compared with other EFSS vendors.
  • Support can be problematic. The fast pace of development isn't supported with concurrent documentation updates.
  • The product does not support CMIS integration, despite providing connectors to SharePoint, OpenText and other content management platforms. There is no direct check-out function for documents in Workshare.

Vendors Added and Dropped

We review and adjust our inclusion criteria for Magic Quadrants and MarketScopes as markets change. As a result of these adjustments, the mix of vendors in any Magic Quadrant or MarketScope may change over time. A vendor's appearance in a Magic Quadrant or MarketScope one year and not the next does not necessarily indicate that we have changed our opinion of that vendor. It may be a reflection of a change in the market and, therefore, changed evaluation criteria, or of a change of focus by that vendor.


This is a new Magic Quadrant developed in recognition of the growing maturity of the EFSS market (see Note 1).


No vendors have been dropped because this is a new Magic Quadrant.

Noticeable Absences

The EFSS market landscape is crowded, with more than 100 vendors selling EFSS destination or extension offerings. Of the vendors with EFSS offerings that did not qualify for inclusion in this Magic Quadrant, many met all but a few of our inclusion criteria. The most relevant vendors are:

  • Barracuda Networks: It offers a consumer service where users get unlimited storage by referring friends. The recently launched business service runs on Barracuda's data center, connected to its storage products. Missing criteria: Availability date, total paid users, revenue and geographic coverage.
  • BitTorrent: It provides synchronization mostly for consumers, although the enterprise market is the target for later in 2014. Missing criteria: Sharing capabilities, security and management features.
  • BoardVantage: Focusing on board meeting rooms, it addresses the needs of senior leadership teams. It provides a higher value proposition and lower user volumes than other EFSS vendors. Missing criteria: Total paid users, integration with LDAP and Active Directories.
  • BooleServer: Its focus is on a highly secure EFSS offering. Missing criteria: Revenue and geographic coverage.
  • Code42: It offers an EFSS destination product built on its mature backup product. Missing criteria: Revenue and required security features.
  • Cortado: Based in Europe, this vendor of print management solutions for virtual desktop environments also offers EFSS products. Missing criteria: Revenue and geographic coverage.
  • Ctera Networks: It offers an EFSS destination product. Missing criterion: Total paid users.
  • Druva: With a strong focus on data backup and protection, this vendor offers an EFSS product. Missing criteria: Revenue, installed base of the broader product bundling EFSS capabilities.
  • Globo: This enterprise mobility management suite vendor includes EFSS capabilities bundled into its products. Missing criterion: Installed base for the broader product bundling EFSS capabilities.
  • Good Technology: This enterprise mobility management suite vendor includes EFSS capabilities bundled into its products. Missing criteria: Installed base for the broader product bundling EFSS capabilities and PC client support.
  • It offers a mobile, single-screen collaboration product with bundled EFSS capabilities. Missing criterion: Installed base for the broader product bundling EFSS capabilities.
  • Hitachi Data Systems: This enterprise storage and content management vendor provides bundled EFSS capabilities. Missing criterion: Total number of paid users.
  • HighQ: This vendor is based in Europe and provides solutions for secure file sharing, team collaboration, data rooms, extranets and enterprise social networks to organizations worldwide. Missing criterion: Geographic coverage.
  • Litera: It is a content risk management vendor that recently launched EFSS. Missing criteria: Revenue and references.
  • Nomadesk: This vendor, based in Europe, offers file synchronization and sharing capabilities with security to the business professional services market. Missing criteria: Revenue and geographic coverage.
  • OpenText: This leading content management vendor sells an EFSS destination product. Missing criterion: Total paid users.
  • It offers leading cloud sales application services, with bundled EFSS capabilities. Missing criterion: Product availability.
  • SAP: A leading corporate application vendor, its EFSS capabilities are part of a bundle (Mobile Secure portfolio). Missing criterion: Installed base for the broader product bundling EFSS capabilities.
  • SugarSync: This EFSS provider has a strong focus on synchronization. Missing criterion: Deployments larger than 5,000 users.
  • Thru: This is a managed file transfer vendor with EFSS capabilities. Missing criteria: Revenue, geographic coverage and installed base for the broader product bundling EFSS capabilities.
  • Vaultize: This vendor provides enterprise file sharing and secure access to corporate data with mobile content management, bring your own device (BYOD) and data loss prevention. Missing criteria: Revenue and total paid users.

Other vendors that offer EFSS products include Liferay, LogMeIn, Mezeo Software, Oracle, OxygenCloud, Redbooth, Soonr, Soti, SpringCM, Symantec, TeamDrive, Tibco Software and Varonis.

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

To be included in this Magic Quadrant, a vendor must meet the following criteria:

  • Offering: An EFSS offering for business.
  • Revenue: EFSS product and service revenue for 2013 must be more than $5 million.
  • Geography: Presence in at least two geographic regions, with some personnel dedicated to the relevant product. No more than 70% of revenue may come from one geographic region.
  • Commercial availability: The EFSS product version generally available since 1 December 2013.
  • Packaging: Available as a separately billed, stand-alone product (destination), or have capabilities bundled at no extra charge with a different product (extensions) from the same vendor that has at least 5 million paid users.
  • Total users: At least 200,000 active, paid users among all the organizations licensed to use the product.
  • Largest deployment: At least one deployment with 5,000 users.
  • References: Five customers that have deployed the service or product for a minimum of six months, with at least 500 paid users. Two of references must have at least 2,000 paid users.
  • Product capabilities: Features provided by partners must be tightly integrated with the vendor's product and invisible to the end user. Mandatory features and capabilities for vendor's offerings are:
    • File synchronization: Support for transparent and automatic round-trip data synchronization between the devices and the cloud service/server. Synchronization support for multiple devices connected to the service or system, for selected files or folders.
    • File sharing: Support for multiple levels of mobile file sharing among: (1) different devices belonging to the same person; (2) different applications on the device; and (3) people inside and/or outside the organization. Basic features for sharing include choosing the sharing destination, inviting peers, emailing links to shared files, tracking file accesses, and restricting access rights to selected users or user groups.
    • File access: To files in on-premises repositories by direct access or replication to a cloud repository. Use of third-party connectors is acceptable, but native support is rated higher.
    • Mobile OS diversity: Support, through a local native application for at least two of the following mobile OS platforms: iOS, Android or Windows (Phone and/or Windows RT). Support for other platforms is optional.
    • Tablets: Support through native apps for at least two platforms — iOS, Android or Windows (Phone and/or Windows RT).
    • PCs: Support for sync on Windows PCs, through a native stand-alone application. Web browser or email client plug-ins, as well as support for Mac OS or Linux platforms is optional.
    • Security: Includes user password authentication (requiring strong alphanumeric passwords), lockout after a given period of inactivity, selective remote wipe of the EFSS mobile app and related files on the device (removing features or disabling access to them) and data encryption on transfer (with Secure Sockets Layer [SSL]).
    • Management: Integration with LDAP and Active Directories for authentication, single sign-on, group policies and centralized management tools that allow administrators to manage synchronization and control the content, access rights and user activity. Integration with MDM platforms is optional.

Optional product features and capabilities, not relevant for inclusion in this Magic Quadrant, but considered when evaluating vendors and products are:

  • Delivery model: Availability as cloud services in public or private clouds; as software products deployed on-premises; or as hybrid deployments, with any combination of on-premises and cloud elements. Support for more than one delivery model.
  • File transfer: Compression capabilities for transferring large files.
  • Content manipulation: Document viewing, editing, annotation, etc. in the mobile application and/or browsers is considered optional, either through embedded native capabilities or through third-party apps. Use of third-party editing, preview and annotation technology is acceptable, but native support is rated higher.
  • Collaboration: Features that encourage collaboration between individuals (e.g., version control, change logs, comments, tasks and activity streams). Mobile access to collaboration platforms, such as SharePoint.
  • Integration: Availability of server-side APIs and integration capabilities for application developers and mobile APIs. Productized integration with business applications (such as those from
  • Security: Includes data encryption at rest (files in the local folder), enhanced data encryption on transfer (e.g., AES-128), data loss prevention (restrictions to applications that can open, manipulate or send a file), DRM, policy enforcement (e.g., to restrict the access to cloud services to sanctioned devices), access tracking and reporting. Containerization of data at rest on mobile devices (possibly through partners); integration with Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) for enhanced authentication and access control; and integration with enterprise-deployed public-key infrastructure (PKI) and certificate authorities' infrastructure.
  • Secure deployment: Availability of secure deployment options for cloud or host-based models, third-party evaluations of data centers or data center certifications (e.g., SSAE 16).
  • Certifications, compliance and audit: Availability of official certifications for selected regulations — e.g., FIPS 140-2, HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley Act and PCI compliance; formal third-party security evaluation, such as ISO 27001 or Service Organization Control (SOC) 2; or audit in support of legal hold/discovery for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
  • Terms and conditions: Standard contract language that states data ownership remains with the client company, and clauses for guaranteed uptime with penalty or credit in case of service outages.

Evaluation Criteria

Ability to Execute

EFSS is a relatively new market. Many of the technology providers represent new ventures with high-risk profiles. Additionally, incumbent IT players in other markets are extending their established products with EFSS capabilities in response to customer demands. The overall viability (including financials), operations in multiple regions and customer experience is highly relevant for buyers to assess the Ability to Execute of new players. The product or service richness and maturity is, instead, highly relevant for buyers that want to assess how well their IT suppliers are evolving traditional products to meet modern EFSS requirements.

Table 1. Ability to Execute Evaluation Criteria



Product or Service


Overall Viability


Sales Execution/Pricing


Market Responsiveness/Record


Marketing Execution


Customer Experience




Source: Gartner (July 2014)

Completeness of Vision

The EFSS market originated from consumer trends such as smart devices, personal cloud services and BYOD initiatives. Vendors with consumer backgrounds best understand the new imperatives of people-centric, mobile and simple use cases. However, they need to adapt their strategies to address enterprise priorities. Vendors with IT backgrounds understand in-depth enterprise priorities, but need to adapt to meet the new expectations of IT users, led by consumer technology experiences. Understanding the priorities, constraints and dynamics of the enterprise market is highly important for buyers of EFSS offerings.

Although core file synchronization and sharing capabilities are standardizing across products, EFSS vendors are specializing in related areas, such as data protection, collaboration, content creation and business workflow. Therefore, the product strategy criteria are highly relevant for buyers to identify vendors with a long-term vision that aligns with their company's objectives.

Table 2. Completeness of Vision Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation Criteria


Market Understanding


Marketing Strategy


Sales Strategy


Offering (Product) Strategy


Business Model


Vertical/Industry Strategy

Not Rated



Geographic Strategy


Source: Gartner (July 2014)

Quadrant Descriptions


Leaders provide mature offerings that meet market demand. They have demonstrated the vision necessary to sustain their market positions as requirements evolve. The hallmark of Leaders is that they focus and invest in their offerings to lead the market and affect its overall direction. Leaders can be the vendors to watch as you try to understand how new offerings might evolve. Leaders typically possess a significant, satisfied customer base and enjoy high visibility in the market. Their size and maturity enable them to remain viable under changing market conditions. Leaders typically respond to a wide market audience by supporting broad market requirements. However, they may fail to meet the specific needs of vertical markets or other more specialized segments.


Challengers have a strong Ability to Execute, but may not have a plan that will maintain a strong value proposition for new customers. Large vendors in mature markets may often be positioned as Challengers, because they choose to minimize risk or avoid disrupting their customers or their own activities. Although Challengers typically have significant size and financial resources, they may lack a strong vision, innovation or overall understanding of the market's needs. In some cases, they may offer products nearing the end of their lives that dominate a large, but shrinking, segment.


Visionaries align with Gartner's view of how a market will evolve, but they have fewer proven capabilities to deliver against that vision. In early markets, this status is normal. In more mature markets, it may reflect the competitive strategy of a small vendor, such as selling an innovation ahead of mainstream demand, or of a large vendor trying to break out of a rut or differentiate itself. For vendors and customers, Visionaries fall into the higher-risk/higher-reward category. They often introduce new technology, services or business models, but may need to build financial strength, service and support, and sales and distribution channels.

Niche Players

Niche Players do well in a particular segment of a market, or have limited ability to innovate or outperform other vendors in a market. This may be because they focus on a particular functionality or region, or because they are new to the market. Alternatively, they may be struggling to remain relevant in a market that is moving away from them. Niche Players may have reasonably broad functionality, but limited implementation and support capabilities, and relatively small customer bases. They have yet to establish a strong vision for their offerings.

Assessing Niche Players is more challenging than assessing vendors in the other quadrants. Some Niche Players could make progress, while others might not execute well or might lack the vision to keep pace with broader market demands. A Niche Player may be the perfect choice to meet your requirements. However, a Niche Player may prove to be a risky choice if it is moving against the market's direction, which may put its long-term viability in question.


Enterprise file sharing will enable higher productivity and collaboration for workers completing tasks across multiple devices in their normal roles. Organizations investing in EFSS capabilities will gain a modern and collaborative real-time workplace. This will help them reduce or avoid the inherent security/compliance threats of storing enterprise data unmanaged on personal cloud services and mobile devices. The business benefits are increased productivity, cost savings and data protection.

The sheer number and variety of vendors and offerings, coupled with the diversity of use cases and user requirements, make it difficult to choose vendors and govern their services. Even when organizations are looking for something simple, their needs often quickly develop into more demanding requirements(see "Destinations and Wraparounds Will Reshape the Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing Market").

A single EFSS offering may not be enough to meet the needs of organizations with multiple usage scenarios. They may need to use a relatively inexpensive EFSS product extension to enable users to move documents onto media tablets. Simultaneously, they will need a more secure EFSS destination product to support a sensitive, external collaboration scenario. The right approach entails understanding user segmentation, acceptable use cases and policies, and identifying which tools or capabilities will augment investments (e.g., in MDM). The ideal outcome provides enhanced collaboration and a great user experience while enabling IT to contain risks and costs.

Sharing assets and information in multiple endpoints, some outside the organization's control, dictate the need for granular controls to enforce data access, use and protection policies. Furthermore, in regulated markets, these tools must extend existing compliance safeguards. Evaluating security and compliance risks will enable IT organizations to identify not only control priorities, particularly for data at rest on the device and corporate server, but also service access permission. Many offerings do not fully meet enterprise control needs for security, compliance and management. Gartner expects to see improvements in this area in one to two years.

For example, based on the U.S. National Security Agency's PRISM (electronic surveillance data mining program) activities, some organizations lack 100% trust in cloud solutions for which the supplier holds the encryption keys and data. Some cloud suppliers are working to enable mechanisms to put customers in charge of encryption keys.

Market Overview

The market for EFSS offerings, such as those provided by the 19 vendors in this Magic Quadrant, has grown rapidly in recent years. Consumer devices and BYOD programs have driven workers' adoption of cloud file synchronization, backup and sharing. Enterprises are often uncomfortable relying on consumer services for a variety of reasons:

  • First, consumer services store corporate information on unmanaged infrastructures and can synchronize data to multiple unmanaged devices.
  • Second, enterprises have no visibility into information sharing by employees.
  • Third, real security and compliance threats are inherent in their use for most IT organizations.

Increasingly, IT security, mobility and enterprise collaboration planners are not bent on banning personal services. Instead, their priority is to establish control by deploying enterprise-class file synchronization and sharing capabilities that secure mobile content and manage sharing and collaboration.

One hundred EFSS players come from a variety of markets and technology backgrounds, using different approaches and business models. Some stand-alone players focus on EFSS, while building out their platform capabilities and integrations with related products. Others have entered the EFSS market from adjacent areas, such as content management, managed file transfer, collaboration, storage and backup, workspaces and enterprise mobility.

Key drivers for the rapid growth of this market are the relatively low technical barriers to entry. We expect to see more EFSS offerings in the next 12 months, because large IT players will enter this market through acquisitions or will broaden their product portfolios.

The EFSS market is not without inhibitors, however. Major roadblocks exist in regulated industries — i.e., the cloud provider model isn't trusted, the provider may be located in another country or under different legislation, or the model may require specific certifications. Another issue is the cost of services, such as EMM for mobility deployments, which drives adoption of EFSS as extensions in other products, rather than adopting EFSS destination products.

The cost of EFSS can be high, especially for public cloud offerings that include cloud storage in the bundle. Prices are dropping, in part, because large cloud providers, such as Google and Microsoft, offer a large amount of cloud storage for a limited (e.g., time) price or free of charge. Most offerings are based on a subscription model (per user, per month) and price range between $15 and $35 for an average public cloud configuration. Another trend is the demand for integrating EFSS products with enterprise back-end products, such as ECM and business application servers. Established vendors (e.g., EMC) tend to support back-end integration through proprietary connectors. Although a growing number of vendors have adopted CMIS for integrating selected products, adoption by ECM vendors is still limited. CMIS adoption is likely to grow, because custom connectors are limited, partly due to the difficulty of maintaining them and to the emergence of Web services and REST APIs. We expect more EFSS vendors will embrace CMIS.

During the next three years, the EFSS market will continue going through rapid transformation. While the adoption of destination and extension products continues, enterprise file sharing capabilities are increasingly becoming commodities. EFSS extensions will develop and mature in most IT products, with "good enough" support for simple use cases. EFSS destinations will expand into broad suites that meet business process requirements and vertical use cases.

Large vendors will acquire specialized vendors, resulting in market consolidation. By 2017, part of the EFSS market will be absorbed into adjacent markets (e.g., collaboration and content management). A few destination players (including future entrants) will transform their EFSS offerings to include cloud, collaboration, content editing and creation, analytics and mobility — basically the modern workplace enabled by the Nexus of Forces. By 2017, less than 10% of today's destination vendors will offer stand-alone products, and the rest of the vendors will have been absorbed into adjacent markets, such as collaboration, ECM, mobility and storage.

Through 2014, Gartner expects a dynamic marketplace with usage far outpacing monetization. Total software revenue worldwide (including licenses, SaaS/cloud-based apps, maintenance and technical support) will be approximately $400 million by year-end 2014. We expect revenue to exceed $500 million by 2016, with more than 70% of the total software revenue generated in North America.

Strategic Planning Assumptions

By 2017, part of the enterprise file synchronization and sharing (EFSS) market will be absorbed into adjacent markets (e.g., collaboration and content management).

By 2017, less than 10% of today's EFSS destination vendors will offer stand-alone products, and the rest of the vendors will have been absorbed into adjacent markets, such as collaboration, enterprise content management (ECM), mobility and storage.

Note 1
Related MarketScope

This research expands the research presented in "MarketScope for Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing," published early in 2013. In addition to the vendors mentioned in that MarketScope, we include AirWatch, Alfresco, Dropbox, Google, Huddle, IBM, Intralinks, Microsoft, Novell, ownCloud and Workshare in this Magic Quadrant. Good Technology, Nomadesk and OxygenCloud included in the MarketScope did not qualify for inclusion in this new Magic Quadrant.

Evaluation Criteria Definitions

Ability to Execute

Product/Service: Core goods and services offered by the vendor for the defined market. This includes current product/service capabilities, quality, feature sets, skills and so on, whether offered natively or through OEM agreements/partnerships as defined in the market definition and detailed in the subcriteria.

Overall Viability: Viability includes an assessment of the overall organization's financial health, the financial and practical success of the business unit, and the likelihood that the individual business unit will continue investing in the product, will continue offering the product and will advance the state of the art within the organization's portfolio of products.

Sales Execution/Pricing: The vendor's capabilities in all presales activities and the structure that supports them. This includes deal management, pricing and negotiation, presales support, and the overall effectiveness of the sales channel.

Market Responsiveness/Record: Ability to respond, change direction, be flexible and achieve competitive success as opportunities develop, competitors act, customer needs evolve and market dynamics change. This criterion also considers the vendor's history of responsiveness.

Marketing Execution: The clarity, quality, creativity and efficacy of programs designed to deliver the organization's message to influence the market, promote the brand and business, increase awareness of the products, and establish a positive identification with the product/brand and organization in the minds of buyers. This "mind share" can be driven by a combination of publicity, promotional initiatives, thought leadership, word of mouth and sales activities.

Customer Experience: Relationships, products and services/programs that enable clients to be successful with the products evaluated. Specifically, this includes the ways customers receive technical support or account support. This can also include ancillary tools, customer support programs (and the quality thereof), availability of user groups, service-level agreements and so on.

Operations: The ability of the organization to meet its goals and commitments. Factors include the quality of the organizational structure, including skills, experiences, programs, systems and other vehicles that enable the organization to operate effectively and efficiently on an ongoing basis.

Completeness of Vision

Market Understanding: Ability of the vendor to understand buyers' wants and needs and to translate those into products and services. Vendors that show the highest degree of vision listen to and understand buyers' wants and needs, and can shape or enhance those with their added vision.

Marketing Strategy: A clear, differentiated set of messages consistently communicated throughout the organization and externalized through the website, advertising, customer programs and positioning statements.

Sales Strategy: The strategy for selling products that uses the appropriate network of direct and indirect sales, marketing, service, and communication affiliates that extend the scope and depth of market reach, skills, expertise, technologies, services and the customer base.

Offering (Product) Strategy: The vendor's approach to product development and delivery that emphasizes differentiation, functionality, methodology and feature sets as they map to current and future requirements.

Business Model: The soundness and logic of the vendor's underlying business proposition.

Vertical/Industry Strategy: The vendor's strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of individual market segments, including vertical markets.

Innovation: Direct, related, complementary and synergistic layouts of resources, expertise or capital for investment, consolidation, defensive or pre-emptive purposes.

Geographic Strategy: The vendor's strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of geographies outside the "home" or native geography, either directly or through partners, channels and subsidiaries as appropriate for that geography and market.

Additional contributions to this research were provided by Chris Silva, Bryan Taylor, Guy Creese and Tom Eid.