Trouble in Cloud Paradise – OwnCloud shuts down and Egnyte Pivots (again!)

We have reported in the past on an  increasing dead pool of consumer file sharing services and now it seems hosted Enterprise File Sharing Services are having a similar issue.

OwnCloud Inc recently announced that, after 5 years,  it was shutting down its operations. Given the press and announcements coming out of OwnCloud in recent months this seemed a strange turn of events and one surmises that at some level revenues and sales must have played a part. OwnCloud had some stellar partnerships, including Redhat, in the Open Source space, which already seem to have been taken over but other incumbents capitalising on their demise. Storage Made Easy, a commercial not open source vendor, yesterday announced their own partnership with RedHat at a storage level, with a primary focus on Ceph and OpenStack.

Whilst not entirely in a similar vein, but perhaps with a similar ethos, another enterprise file sharing vendor has announced a pivot. Engine announce that they were now focusing on protecting documents rather than Enterprise File Share and Sync which they believe to be commoditised. Engine’s issue is that the hosted Enterprise File Share and Sync is indeed saturated unlike the self hosted space which seems to be much more in demand from the enterprise. Although Egnyte purports a hybrid capability they really are a service provider in which data goes back through their back end eco-system which, since they took Google venture money, is Google’s storage infrastructure.

The Egnyte announcement comes off the back of a previous pivot in which Egnyte announced they were focused on analytics and the adaptive enterprise. Maybe one of these will eventually stick ! Egnyte is not entirely going to have this space to themselves with other incumbents such as Accellion (who had/ have their own issue given the recently reported FaceBook breach), Watchdox ( a BlackBerry company since 2015) and Storage Made Easy all providing audit and governance features across a wide range of storage endpoints and , at least some of those vendors, do provide secure on-site behind the firewall self-hosting.

Expect to see more companies falling by the wayside, even maybe some unicorns in this space, as it commoditises and VC backed vendors come under pressure to prove out revenue models.

Storage Vendors go for broke with OpenStack Swift Storage

openstack logoOpenStack, the open-source on-premise alternative to Amazon S3 is heading into 2015 with a vast mount of momentum. VC’s are falling over themselves to invest in OpenStack related companies and there seems to be genuine enterprise momentum.

The OpenStack story kicked off in 2010 and was initially a combined project between Rackspace and NASA. Fast forward to 2015 and it is managed by the OpenStack Foundation which is a non-profit corporate entity that was established in September 2012 as a means to promote OpenStack software.

Most people may know OpenStack primarily due to it’s infrastructure as a service (IaaS) solution, but it also has an object Storage solution, called ‘Swift’ (not to be confused with Apple’s new programming language, also confusingly called ‘Swift’) which also has garnered a momentum of its own.

Object Storage is a type storage architecture that manages data as objects unlike other storage systems which either manage data as a file hierarchy or as blocks within sectors and tracks (block storage).

The advantages of object storage architectures is that they offer unlimited scalability with a lower emphasis on processing and they offer access using Internet protocols (REST) rather than storage commands.

There is a momentum around Object Storage companies that include such commercial vendors as CleverSafe, Cloudian, Amplistore and Scality.

Vendors who are offering an OpenStack Swift distro as part of their offering include:

HP (Helion Content Depot)
IBM (Cloud Manager with OpenStack)
SoftLayer (Now owned by IBM)
SUSE Cloud
Ubuntu OpenStack
RedHat OpenStack
VMWare OpenStack

As an example of the sums of money involved, Mirantis recently closed a round for $100 million and SwiftStack a round for $16 million, taking both company to total investments of $120 million and $23.6 million respectively. IBM also purchased SoftLayer for a reputed $2 billion. It’s clear that VC’s and Software vendors see something special in OpenStack.

Amazon Web Services may rule when it comes to public cloud but a recent survey sponsored by GigaOM gave results indicating that half of private clouds deployed where OpenStack based.

OpenStack, like Amazon Web Services, is primarily supplied with REST API’s and toolkits  that developers can use to interact with the OpenStack infrastructure. As with AWS this creates opportunities for vendors at the Application level to provide Apps and tools.

Storage Made Easy is a company that has already make an impact on the OpenStack community with its Enterprise File Share and Sync product offering, which has been optimized for OpenStack Swift. The company, itself a startup, already has a growing number of service providers and customer using its enterprise application in conjunction with OpenStack Swift, and has partnered with a number of the key players listed above in a strategy focused around taking advantage of OpenStack’s growth.

Other companies are treading the same path and this itself creates an eco-system of enterprise ready Applications ready to take advantage of OpenStack’s foothold in the Enterprise to grow or to be acquired.

Of course, with OpenStack being an open-source initiative it is not just commercial Apps that have sprung up around OpenStack. There are  Open Source Applications such as Swift Explorer and CyberDuck, but strangely, given the Open Source root of OpenStack there seems to be more commercial offerings rather than open source offerings.

All in all OpenStack is an initiative that is in its ascendancy. It used to be said that OpenStack was more hype than reality but as we head into 2015 the money men have placed their bets and they tend to bet on reality rather than hype.