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Egnyte Blends Google Drive, On-Premises Storage

The cloud is not enough says Egnyte, a Google Ventures-funded file-sharing startup offering a hybrid storage answer for enterprises.

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Google has bet big on cloud computing. A few years ago, as the company was preparing to launch Chrome OS, Sundar Pichai, the company's head of Chrome and Android, went so far as to declare, "I don't think we need files anymore."

As recounted in Steven Levy's book In the Plex, Pichai's argument led to the cancellation of Google's cloud-based storage service, GDrive.

Yet, GDrive didn't die. It was revived and debuted in 2012 as Google Drive. People, it seems, still need files.

Meanwhile, the cloud, for all its wonder, turns out to be somewhat less than secure. Revelations about the extent to which the National Security Agency can access data stored with commercial service providers haven't quite derailed faith in the cloud, but they've underscored the security and regulatory advantages of on-premises storage and encryption.

[ It's a great to be a developer. Read The Developer Is King, Google And Startups Say. ]

In an effort to cater to companies that remain uncomfortable with the cloud in some contexts, Egnyte, an enterprise file-sharing startup based in Mountain View, Calif., has updated its file storage and sharing service so that it works in conjunction with Google Drive. The result is a hybrid cloud that stores and syncs Google Drive content either through Egnyte's servers or through on-premises storage from the likes of EMC, NetApp or NetGear. It's a cloud-based service that provides a way to keep one foot on the ground, where the client has control.

"Our belief that the cloud is not enough has become much more prevalent and pervasive," said Egnyte CEO Vineet Jain in a phone interview.

Egnyte provides access to files from Google Drive, Microsoft Office and CAD systems, among others, allowing users to access them from anywhere, through cloud storage or on-premises systems, under the control and visibility of IT administrators. It also allows Google Drive files to be shared securely with partners, without requiring them to have a Gmail account.

In a statement, Jonathan Rochelle, director of product development for Google Drive, remarked that Egnyte "will help customers who need to retain a hybrid of cloud and [on-premises] storage."

Jain said that Egnyte offers encryption for data stored on its servers and supports endpoint encryption solutions when local storage is used. Though customers manage their own encryption keys when using on-premises encryption, Egnyte holds keys in escrow when files are stored on its servers. "When it comes to sharing, if you did not make the key available, then sharing becomes very difficult," said Jain.

This isn't the first time Google has recognized the problems many organizations have with cloud computing. The introduction of Google Apps for Government in 2010 demonstrated the company's awareness that consumer-grade cloud services couldn't meet the most stringent regulatory requirements. But now, Google is investing externally to make its services more palatable to businesses — Engyte is funded in part by Google Ventures.

On-premises storage isn't going away anytime soon, but Engyte might. It's just the sort of company that could end up as a Google acquisition somewhere down the road.

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