The openness of Novell Filr technology

In the previous blog entry, I spoke about finally getting the opportunity look deeper into Novell Filr technology. As I continue my journey of exploration, I am already consolidating information about the other EFSS (Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing) solutions out there.

Many corporate IT users are moving away from pedantic corporate IT control toward the seemingly easy to synchronize, easy to share, cloud-based services such as Dropbox and Box.net. This practice exposes a big hole in the corporate network, leaking data and files, and yet most corporate IT users are completely ignorant about such a irresponsible act.

Corporate IT users cannot blame IT for being a big A-hole because they keep tight controls of the network and security. It is their job to safeguard the company’s data and files for security, compliance and privacy reasons.

In the past 9-12 months, IT has certainly relaxed (probably “relented” is a better word) their uptight demeanour because they know they couldn’t stop the onslaught of BYOD (bring your own devices). The C-level and the senior management have practically demanded it and had forced their way to bring in their own smart devices and tablets to increase their productivity (Yeah, right!).

To alleviate data security concerns, MDM (Mobile Device Management) solutions are now hot items on the IT shopping list. Since we are talking about Novell, I also got to know that Novell also has an MDM solution called ZenWorks Mobile Management. Novell Zenworks is already well integrated with the proven Novell track record of user and identity management as well as integration with LDAP authentication systems such as Active Directory and eDirectory.

The collision of the BYOD phenomena and the need to securely share corporate data and files security conceives the Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing market.

Besides a well integrated BYOD & MDM strategy, I believe one of the key criteria of Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing is the ability of the enterprise solution to preserve the existing corporate File Server and NAS storage infrastructure and setup while finding a way to appease the BYOD demands of corporate IT users. After all, the Corporate File Servers and NAS storage are still the workhorses of the corporate network, and they hold data and files to drive the business.

Many EFSS vendors require the corporations data and files to be shipped to some public, private, hybrid or managed clouds before the actual EFSS solution can be realized. Many corporations do not want that, because they still have plenty of file servers and NAS within their corporate networks.

The prudent marriage of BYOD/MDM to Corporate File Servers/NAS Storage will unleash the real power and potential of truly bringing corporate information to the fingertips of the employees anywhere whilst allowing IT to maintain control and security. This is not easy and that’s why I said that “there are many pretenders and too few real players” in my previous blog entry.

If done right and if it has the right ingredients, I believe, this will be TRUE DATA MOBILITY, TRULY SECURED and PROTECTED DATA. The corporate data and files remain safe behind the corporation wall (and firewalls) and IT can confidently allow files to be shared to mobile devices and other mobile platforms.

To set the scene, I looked at 3 competing EFSS solutions from storage vendors I am familiar with, in the likes of EMC Syncplicity, HDS HCP Anywhere and NetApp ionGrid in the same ring as Novell Filr.

Hitachi Content Platform Anywhere (HCPA) was just released 2 days ago. There were plenty of fanfare about HCPA, but as I read the news and articles of its release, I believe the customer must move their data and files to the HCP Platform or even to the newly minted Hitachi Cloud Services. This defeats the purpose of the customers wanting to keep their corporate data and files with their existing file servers and NAS.

Similarly, NetApp also has started building a mobility solution when they acquired ionGrid in February this year. Unfortunately, NetApp’s objective seems all too clear and that is to lock the  customer’s data and files into a NetApp storage platform. The ionGrid solution should be open to work with any file sharing services.

EMC Syncplicity holds better promise as it seems. In its roadmap, it will certify and support 3rd party storage systems, as quoted in this article. But the realization of that day when EMC Syncplicity will suppport a 3rd party storage is still far off.

We are talking about today, where an EFSS solution is required here and now. Is there one out there that can meet open requirements? Let me count the ways:

  1. We want an EFSS solution that has true intentions to unleash the power of existing corporate file sharing services and securely put the corporate data and files into the hands of the mobile corporate IT users.
  2. We want one EFSS solution that should not prescribe what platform we should use to share our corporate files to the mobile devices
  3. We want a well-integrated mobile device management solution with user and identity management and authentication system for security, compliance and data privacy.

As I explore the Novell Filr from the 3 different angles above, Novell Filr seems to have all the ingredients when meeting head-to-head with the 3 storage vendors’ solutions.

It does not disrupt the corporations’ existing File Server or NAS storage infrastructure and is vendor agnostic. This allows corporations to securely share their corporate data and files beyond the realms of the firewalled corporate networks without losing control or violate compliance and privacy regulations.

Novell already is a proven enterprise user and identity management solution leader and coupled with their Zenworks Mobile Management solution, they have a well integrated BYOD/MDM/EFSS framework for the enterprise. Novell Filr definitely having the right stuff as I see it.

Here’s a high level overview of the Novell Filr:

The journey continues for me. I hope to be able to share deeper into Novell Filr technology next.

About cfheoh

I am a technology blogger with 20+ years of IT experience. I write heavily on technologies related to storage networking and data management because that is my area of interest and expertise. I introduce technologies with the objectives to get readers to *know the facts*, and use that knowledge to cut through the marketing hypes, FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and other fancy stuff. Only then, there will be progress.

I am involved in SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) and as of October 2013, I have been appointed as SNIA South Asia & SNIA Malaysia non-voting representation to SNIA Technical Council. I was previously the Chairman of SNIA Malaysia until Dec 2012.

As of August 2015, I am returning to NetApp to be the Country Manager of Malaysia & Brunei. Given my present position, I am not obligated to write about my employer and its technology, but I am indeed subjected to Social Media Guidelines of the company. Therefore, I would like to make a disclaimer that what I write is my personal opinion, and mine alone. Therefore, I am responsible for what I say and write and this statement indemnify my employer from any damages.

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One Response to The openness of Novell Filr technology

  1. Pingback: Novell Filr Technology Overview Part 1 | Storage Gaga

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