EMC De-syncs from Syncplicity

Private equity firm Skyview Capital is acquiring Syncplicity from EMC.

Acquired by EMC in 2012, Syncplicity is a cloud-based file sharing and sync service (CFSS), focused on enterprise customers. Some similar services are Citrix ShareFile, Oxygen Cloud, Box (which now wants to move beyond CFSS), and a host of other, mostly consumer-oriented services like Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, and others.

Here are some interesting tidbits from the release:

  • EMC's sales team will continue to sell Syncplicity
  • Syncplicity will remain an EMC partner
  • EMC says it remains committed to Syncplicity’s growth
  • Syncplicity did quite well as an EMC business

So Why Is EMC Selling It?

Customers have found a considerable synergy between Document Management/ECM products and CFSS services. As a result, a number of ECM vendors have built or acquired CFSS services. Alfresco, OpenText (Tempo Box), Oracle (Oracle Documents Cloud Service) and most other ECM vendors now have an offering. In fact, just last week, IBM and Box made a big splash with their partnership.

So when every ECM vendor is going after this space, why is EMC seemingly giving up on it?

EMC says it wants to focus on its core infrastructure business and that Syncplicity is a “step away” from that. The company's presser also hints that Syncplicity needed to be on its own to take advantage of a fast-evolving CFSS marketplace.

As our research subscribers know, Syncplicity differs from other ECM vendors’ CFSS offerings in a couple of ways. While most others focus on collaboration (with sync thrown in), Syncplicity’s strength lies in advanced synchronization services (for details, see our ECM Report). Syncplicity also has some good security and policy-related features for administrators that other tools lack.

However, as a standalone service, Syncplicity probably wasn’t lucrative enough for an EMC sales strategy that focuses on large deals. Moreover, customers who are not "EMC shops,” and others will probably find it easier to deal with a standalone Syncplicity instead of EMC.

Is EMC Really Giving up on CFSS?

Even though EMC has divested Syncplicity, I don’t believe they have given up on CFSS services. In fact, in my opinion, they can’t while they still sell Documentum licenses (and no, I’m not speculating that they are spinning off Documentum as well).

EMC has multiple similar services in its arsenal. There’s VMware AirWatch, and then there’s Mozy. Sure, they target different use cases -- Mozy targets online backups and AirWatch is known for MDM/EMM -- but both of them have capabilities for file sharing and sync.

What’s the Impact on Syncplicity?

Sure, it’ll get more flexibility and will be able to target customers who usually stay away from EMC. However, this is a very rapidly evolving marketplace and as I’ve written before, it will be very tough to remain a standalone CFSS service. Whether they get acquired by another vendor in the near future or remain with Skyview is something time will tell.

What about You, the Customer?

If you are a Documentum-only customer but were evaluating Syncplicity, you must spend more time in due diligence and get a committed roadmap from EMC regarding the future of integration as well as plans for potential alternatives. Finally, if you are evaluating CFSS services, remember that in addition to Syncplicity, you have several other enterprise-focused options, most of which we evaluate in our ECM Report.

Subscribers can experiment with permutations using RSG's RealTime Vendor Comparison tool.

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