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Prologue:

This series aims to expand awareness of Enterprise File Sharing solutions among IT buyers and business users. Previous topics covered include


In this article, we continue exploring differences between enterprise file sharing solutions that trace their origins to consumer file sharing, and those that were built from the ground up for businesses. In The Permissions Fiasco: Deconstructing Consumer File Sharing Solutions, we compared ‘consumer-first’ and ‘business-first’ file sharing architectures, noting differences in their performance, security and ability to support essential enterprise use cases.

A key indicator of enterprise readiness for EFSS solutions is sync performance, which is a measure of the speed and accuracy with which one or more files synchronize between two locations – the source, where the file is created or modified, and the destination, where changes are reflected on a copy of the file.

An enterprise-grade file sharing solution should support most, if not all, of the following sync scenarios:

  1. Sync from user device to the cloud (or vice-versa)
  2. Sync between different devices belonging to a user, via the cloud
  3. Sync shared files between different users, via the cloud
  4. Sync from user device to on-premises server (or vice-versa)
  5. Sync between different devices belonging to a user, via on-premises server
  6. Sync shared files between different users, via on-premises server
  7. Point to point sync between on-premise servers, generally across worksites
diagram

On-premises and cloud-based file synchronization

Cloud-only file sharing solutions can only support scenarios 1 through 3 above. If you’re wondering why on-premises content matters (isn’t everything moving to the cloud?), consider the following:

  1. Legacy Repositories and Investment Protection – Many organizations have significant content repositories on premise, and may mandate IT teams to protect these investments (extract more ROI).
  2. Regulation and Compliance – Some industries heavily regulate where and how sensitive content is stored, and the cloud in many cases just isn’t an option. For example, government agencies (e.g. defense departments) do not allow suppliers to share information with third-parties, which rules out the use public cloud services.
  3. Large Files – Some industries deal with very large files (e.g. plans or blueprints for a construction company, or videos for advertising agencies) that take too long to sync with the cloud, esp. when team members concurrently create, access and edit files.

It is therefore important that your solution supports all the file sharing scenarios that are applicable to your business.

Now that we’re caught up on why sync performance matters, IDC recently compared the sync performance of leading EFSS vendors. Here’s a comparison of the sync performance of Egnyte Connect, an EFSS solution architected from the ground up for the enterprise, and Box, based on data from IDC:

Test Description Egnyte Sync Performance Box Sync Performance Group Average Sync Performance
1 Time in seconds taken to sync a 20 MB Powerpoint file to the cloud 53.1 sec 70.5 sec 59.4 sec
2 Time in minutes taken to sync end-to-end (upload and download) a 4 GB+ MPEG file through the cloud 39.6 min 63.2 min 88.7 min
3 Time in seconds taken to sync (via cloud) a folder containing 10 small files (less than 500 KB) between two users 21.7 sec 15.7 sec 22.7 sec

Comparing Egnyte and Box Sync Performance
IDC, EFSS Evaluation Guide: Egnyte Connect Sync Performance, Doc# US41574516, 07/2016
IDC, EFSS Evaluation Guide: Box Sync Performance, Doc# US41574516, 07/2016

While Box performed marginally better when working with small files, there was a drastic drop in sync performance with large files when compared with Egnyte Connect and the group average of all vendors studied.

This data essentially reinforces our argument that consumer-first solutions like Box perform well in consumer-centric use cases, like synchronizing several small files (e.g. vacation pictures), but perform poorly when the workload intensifies as will be the case with enterprises.

Their architectures aren’t built to scale for demanding enterprise requirements, and going back to the drawing board to re-architect them without disrupting their install base is a tall order.

Stay tuned as we continue exploring consumer and business-centric file sharing solutions.