Novell joins file sync and share hit parade

New product sits behind firewall

Novell is the latest company to join the file sync and share hit parade with their new product, Filr. Their twist on this old chestnut is that they live behind the firewall, but they let the content live in its native place. There is not a third-party layer involved. It's simply a service that sits on top of the existing repositories.

It's worth noting that ECM vendors like OpenText, EMC and HP (NYSE: HPQ) have similar offerings behind the firewall.

Interestingly, Novell also tries to distinguish itself from the pack by differentiating Filr from "those cloud-based file syncing and sharing services," you only know too well.

But the approach has some merit. It's built on top of the existing file system and simply provides a way to mobilize the content without moving it. As they rightly point out in their statement announcing the product, the proliferation of mobile devices in the enterprise has created a pressing need for mobile content management. This is something we've been talking about for some time, this idea of protecting content in motion.

Content sits behind the firewall with this solution, but users in motion can still access it and make use of it, including sharing it and collaborating on it, all while it lives on the company's server, making it extremely IT friendly.

The key to this product, however, is not necessarily IT, but end users who are looking for something that's as easy to use as those cloud services they are likely currently using to get their work done. Companies that pitch to IT have that burden to make sure it's something users like because my feeling is if it's not, users will run back to the cloud services they know (and frankly love).

By the same token, if you give your business users a viable alternative that works as well and is as easy to use, but offers the security that IT is looking for, than they are probably going to use it in most cases.

Filr is the latest in a long line of sync and share tools. These tools tend to do just about the same thing, regardless of the vendor, so they try to distinguish themselves in small ways. Novell has lined up with the big ECM vendors to offer tools that are IT-friendly and live behind the firewall. So long as they are friendly to users too, that approach could work.

For more information:
- see the Novell press release

Related Articles:
Spotlight: Novell updates ZENworks app virtualization, mobile management tools
Novell announces ZENworks Mobile Management