File sync and share is the hottest technology category since social networking. Dropbox alone now has 175 million registered users, up from 110 million just nine months ago. Dozens of vendors are going after the business version of Dropbox. There are enough disruptive forces in play — cloud delivery, mobile devices, and partner collaboration to name just three — that it's possible for a new entrant like Box or EMC Syncplicity or Dropbox itself to become a major new document collaboration platform.
To help CIOs and the entire industry focus on the right things and create the best short list, Rob Koplowitz and I, assisted by Andrew Smith, evaluated 16 file sync and share platforms on 26 different criteria. We interviewed the vendors and their customers to build a comprehensive view of their solutions and published it in a new Forrester Wave.
- We evaluated Accellion, Acronis, AirWatch, Alfresco, Box, Citrix, Dropbox, Egnyte, EMC, Google, Hightail (formerly known as YouSendIt), IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Salesforce.com, and WatchDox on factors like mobile support, security, links to systems of record, organizational commitment, market experience, and deployment architecture to give you the decision tools to create the right shortlist for your particular environment and scenarios.
- In addition to these criteria, we recommend that you think carefully about whether you can use the cloud (better for mobile support and partner collaboration), whether you want to deploy now with a startup or wait until your next upgrade with a major platform player, and whether you can afford to give every employee a license or subscription to the service.
- There are more vendors competing for this market than we've seen in years. Narrowing the field to 16 vendors meant focusing in on the ones that Forrester's CIO clients are asking about most frequently and the ones that Rob and I felt had strong momentum and a broad business scenario focus in January when we started the process. Even so, we had to leave out some important vendors: BoardVantage, Good Technology, Intralinks, and Workshare.
There's a lot to say about what business scenarios these platforms support; about what the right pricing model is for various scenarios; the role of APIs in turning the cloud-based solutions from Dropbox and Box in particular into full-blown ecosystems; and the overall size, scope, and future of this market. But we'll have to tackle that when back from vacation at the end of the month. Meanwhile, here are the results:
- Box has a half-length lead on the others. Box comes out a little ahead because it covers more ground than the other solutions in both its current offering and strategic choices.
- EMC and IBM inch into Leader positions. These two vendors have strong offerings and a solid strategy for success, but each misses on a key capability, either in the current offering or strategy.
- Accellion, Citrix, Egnyte, and WatchDox head a crowded field of Strong Performers. These vendors are missing on some key aspect of a leadership product but have solid offerings.
- AirWatch, Alfresco, Dropbox, and Salesforce.com are in the middle of Strong Performers. These vendors, too, have solid offerings though missing a bit more on either current offering or strategy.
- Acronis, Google, Hightail (formerly YouSendIt), and Microsoft round out the Strong Performer category. These vendors earn the Strong Performer label but are missing key elements, either in their strategy or current offering.
- Novell, even at this early stage, has established itself as a Contender.This product was in beta when we evaluated it and is only just now coming into general availability.