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August 8, 2014

Egnyte CEO questions EMC motives for ending partnership

Was termination really just about an unapproved press release?

By Joe Curtis

The CEO of cloud storage software developer Egnyte believes his firm may have been struck off EMC’s partner programme in part so the storage giant could protect an existing product line.

EMC dumped the file-sharing startup from its Tech Connect partner programme yesterday, saying Egnyte issued an ‘unapproved’ press release for an ‘untested’ product.

Egnyte’s product announcement claimed to enable EMC VNX users to share stored files on the cloud via a "native integration with the EMC VNX product family, transforming VNX enterprise storage into an enterprise file services platform".

But Egnyte CEO Vineet Jain told CBR that EMC could have made the decision to dump it as a partner in part to protect Syncplicity, its own file share and sync product.

"We got compared by the press vis-a-vis Syncplicity and, now it’s my judgement over someone’s else’s, but overall we appear to be a much stronger solution," he said.

Asked whether EMC, which acquired Syncplicity in 2012, was protecting the product, Jain answered: "Quite possibly, I mean that could be a big part of this reaction."

"This [Syncplicity] is a classic file sync and share product and I’ve always said file sync and share is a very good product, but not enough for the enterprise use cases: it only provides a sliver of what an enterprise needs."

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Egnyte claims its Storage Sync service, announced in the August 5th press release, enables customers using EMC’s VNX range of hardware to send files to the cloud, providing remote access to files from any location and device.

EMC accused the startup of sending out the release without EMC’s approval. However Jain defended the release saying it concerned only his own firm’s product announcement.

In its statement saying Engyte had acted without its approval, EMC said it hadn’t tested the Egnyte product.

But Jain said: "We even worked with their engineering help to build this product. Did we have corporate PR blessing to announce this as an Egnyte and EMC product? Absolutely not. And we never conveyed that."

EMC said Egnyte was "the lowest-level" member of its Tech Connect partner programme.

Jain responded by labelling partner programmes "kind of old school", saying the product development process is too slow.

Asked how long it would have taken to get a product out under the partner programme, Jain said: "God knows, I don’t know."

The future of Egnyte’s Storage Sync running with EMC’s hardware range remains unclear. Currently EMC’s APIs remain open, Jain said.

At time of writing EMC had yet to respond to a request for comment about whether it wants Egnyte to end provision of Storage Sync on its products.

Jain believes that the presence of pure cloud vendors like Dropbox, Box and others in the enterprise market means storage stalwarts must embrace hybrid solutions, like those offered through partnerships with firms such as Egnyte.

He told CBR: "[The] on-prem storage market is definitely being impacted by the migration to the cloud, and we represent the hybrid story, a good additive on top of on-prem rather than taking out on-prem and moving everything to the cloud."

A spokesman for EMC said: "Egnyte has been making statements around its relationship with EMC that are not reflective of how EMC sees that relationship. They have been made aware of that but we have decided to go our separate ways. Best of luck to them."

Picture: Vineet Jain

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