Vendors under the radar: Syncplicity

cloud storageNext up in my under-the-radar series is Syncplicity. I went back and forth about whether or not to include Syncplicity as an under-the-radar vendor. Certainly they wouldn't have qualified a year ago. But do they now?

An emerging product in an emerging market fighting for budget within EMC is a difficult position to be in. And one of the big story lines from the investors that took Syncplicity private is that Syncplicity has huge potential, but couldn't thrive in EMC because the sales models weren't aligned properly and they couldn't invest for growth. When it came to budget allocations, the products paying the bills got more investment (or Syncplicity's tactical integration with those products was prioritized versus more strategic development efforts).

Since the spin-out Syncplicity has been fairly quiet, and competitors (as they are wont to do when there is blood in the water, even if it may only be a scratch) keep telling me that Syncplicity is all but dead, all the talent has left, and it will be an asset sale any day (btw, my thoughts on the spin out are here). Indeed, there has been some brain drain, people have left for seemingly greener (and more stable) pastures. But I think the reports of Syncplicity's death may be a bit premature.

Just this week the Syncplicity team announced a significant win at Siemens. What's significant? Well, 3PB of data already (mostly) stored in the solution makes it pretty sticky. And the deal is for 330,000 seats — a huge number of users. But I consider the capacity number much more important than the seat count. Why? There is lots of shelfware in the world, and licenses don't translate into use, which does not translate into stickiness and long term value. Capacity is a better indicator, but ultimately activity, such as new files, updated files, and the number of shared folders and links, will tell the tale. It will be interesting to check back in 6 or 12 months to gauge success. (Small rant: all the vendors publish shiny new deals with big seat counts,though this is the highest number I know of, by far. But we never see a report card on usage — it would be nice for vendors to back up their big adoption claims by sharing real impact numbers. Rant over).

So, does one really huge deal mean Syncplicity is pulling a Lazarus? No. Because it was never dead, just quietly regrouping. The team has replaced the talent it lost with a new team (though there are still some key technical leaders in place). In fact, the engineering headcount is up 50% since the divorce, and the dedicated sales team has doubled. The team is on track for 2016 bookings to be about 4x 2015's numbers. And it has some other pretty large deals (Texas A&M, almost 200,000 seats, about 1.5PB of data, to name one, there are others whose names I can't share).

The Siemens deal does illustrate some key points for Syncplicity that it will need to build on to continue on a positive growth curve. But I think that there are two that are pretty important:

  1. Hybrid matters. Global organizations navigate a very complex regulatory landscape, and Syncplicity can enable them to confidently meet compliance requirements while giving employees a cloud experience. Like Citrix, Accellion and Egnyte, Syncplicity lets IT organizations choose where their data is stored — on-premises, with a local cloud provider, with one of the big cloud service providers, or in a mixed model.

    So if a country has regulations that stipulate that certain types of data need to stay in country, it can. And Syncplicity lets customers manage their own encryption keys, so even if a customer chooses to go with a cloud provider, the provider has no access to the data. As noted in one of my 2016 EFSS predictions videos, the regulatory and jurisdictional landscape is still evolving and will be an influencer in cloud decisions.
  2. Syncplicity learned a lot about supporting large enterprises as a part of EMC. Siemens isn't just complex, it's huge. It does business in 192 countries. It would be tough for a small startup to support that type of environment. Even though Syncplicity and EMC divorced, Syncplicity still benefits. It teamed with EMC for this deal (the storage is EMC Elastic Cloud Storage, on which Siemens is creating a private cloud). And it was involved in really large deals with really big companies when it was part of EMC. That's provided invaluable experience for the support team (Syncplicity's support team was its own entity as a part of EMC, working in hand-in-hand with EMC corporate).

I think, or hope, that the Siemens announcement is a coming out party of sorts for Syncplicity. The team tells me it has a backlog of announcements and customer wins. I'd like to see them come out with stickiness and usage stats to prove the solution's value. 

Like Avere, I've been working with Syncplicity from pretty much the start. It has had its bumps, but I love seeing a success story. And despite the premature rumors of its death, I think Syncplicity is emerging from the shadows in a pretty healthy state. Time will tell.

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Topics: Storage