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Egnyte simplifies: Now it's a hosted workgroup file server

Company chisels away features to reveal a solid small-business app.

In April 2007, I covered Egnyte, a capable but overly complex workgroup file-sharing application. Since then, based on complaints and concerns from people like me who found the service intriguing--but not enough to actually adopt it--the company has rebuilt Egnyte into a useful product that bears little resemblance to the 1.0. CEO Vineet Jain came by my office last week to show me the new product.

Egnyte is now an "online file server." Designed for small businesses, the pitch is that instead of going out and buying a file server for your workgroup, you instead rent server access from Egnyte. Each user gets a private folder and access to a common folder for sharing files with coworkers. Administration is easier than with a Windows-based server, access from outside the company network is easy to provide, and Egnyte gives you other services you might not otherwise have access to, like an archive of file revisions and iPhone access (a new feature) to the file stores.

New, simplified Egnyte provides worthwhile features for small business.

The service costs $15 per user per month for "power users," who get access to all Egnyte's features including backup and a virtual hard drive app for their desktop (there are versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux). Other people in your company can store and share files for free but don't get all the bells and whistles. There's no cap on storage space. As Jain says, "Storage is the cheapest part of our cost equation."

Jain said Egnyte is making headway in business due to the service's data redundancy and security features, including HIPAA compliance, as well as its "Datasafe guarantee," in which the company agrees to provide access to all data stored on Egnyte servers for seven days even if the company goes out of business.

Egnyte is not a desktop-to-Web file synchronization tool, but other than that it has a strong feature set for its target market. I experimented a little with the new admin interface and found it fast and simple to use.

There are several products in similar orbits to Egnyte, including, to varying degrees, Mozy, Carbonite, Box.net, and YouSendIt. For its new target market, though, I think this company has zeroed in on a product that works.