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SOS Online Backup Offers Secure Collaboration Service

SOS Online Backup is introducing SOS Collaborate Private Cloud, a cloud-based service that gives users the ability to create, share and modify files together, as well as synchronize changes from different users. The purpose of the service is to allow organizations to give their employees the same functionality and ease of use as public cloud collaboration services such as Dropbox, but in a more secure--and less expensive--fashion. By keeping it on the customer's own infrastructure, its IT department can control access and security parameters, the company says. In particular, the service is aimed at organizations subject to regulatory environments, such as Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA.

"SOS Collaborate is a first-in-class offering for business customers of all sizes, and is poised to deliver a tremendous amount of value to organizations struggling to let end users work more flexibly with unstructured data while simultaneously avoiding the loss of control that is being caused by the army of cloud-based Dropbox-like solutions that end users are turning to," says Jeff Boles, senior analyst at Taneja Group, a Hopkinton, Mass.-based consultancy. "We've been carefully watching this space to see who would be first to innovate inside the enterprise walls with a Dropbox-like solution, and SOS looks like they're first. While I'm waiting for hands-on time to see if the promises do indeed stand up, if SOS Collaborate delivers the ease of implementation, scale and performance, and end user functionality SOS is promising, I think we'll hear a sigh of relief from admins looking to take their end user file access and protection infrastructure into the modern age."

According to Forrester research ("Q2 2011 US Workforce Technology And Engagement Online Survey"), half of U.S. information workers now split their time among the office, home and other remote locations. The company sees three technology "trains" impacting the future of workforce productivity, innovation and advocacy by 2016: enterprise mobility, enterprise social and cloud services for business.

In January, Enterprise Strategy Group named Box a leading enterprise-class solution in the file sharing and collaboration market, in a study that included Dropbox and six other vendors: Egnyte, Nomadesk, ShareFile, SugarSync, Syncplicity and YouSendIt. ESG's Terri McClure, senior analyst, hasn't been briefed on the SOS offering yet, but she says it is not the first vendor that sells its software so users can run the solution behind the firewall on their own hardware; Nomadesk, Syncplicity and Egnyte do that, too. "Plus, there are hybrid models that allow the certificate server to be behind the firewall and the storage outside, or some capacity to be behind the firewall but other capacity to be outside. Again, it is all about the tradeoffs a company is willing to make."

She says there are some pretty big tradeoffs to make when thinking about running 100% behind the firewall on your own hardware. For instance, the big things users cite as adoption drivers for these solutions are reducing headcount and help desk costs, as well as footprint, planning, managing and allocating capacity, and agility. "So you can get some economies of scale from putting a private file sharing and collaboration cloud in place, but the cost/benefit analysis may not pan out enough to change the status quo."

The SOS service offers standard collaboration features, including performing previews of Microsoft Office files and synchronizing files with the desktop, says Ken Shaw, CEO of the El Segundo, Calif.-based company. It has a simple interface that is designed to be rapidly adopted while being easier to use than competing enterprise collaboration products such as Microsoft SharePoint or EMC Documentum, he says.

Other features in the service include data encryption (128-bit Secure Sockets Layer in transit and Advanced Encryption Standard 256 at rest); open source plug-ins; the ability for administrative personnel to perform functions such as setting LDAP policies, creating audit trail reporting, monitoring and limiting storage by user, monitoring notifications and conversations, and producing activity logs; and the ability to gain access to files using mobile devices.

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