TMCnet Feature
May 01, 2013

Secure Mobile File Sharing Gets Double Lift from Novell and NTP

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

Sometimes, development just happens to run in just such a manner that new products that do much the same thing come out at almost exactly the same time. That seems to be just what happened here as both Novell (News - Alert) and NTP Software earlier this week rolled out secure mobile file sharing products that are specifically geared toward offices who are looking to implement the bring your own device (BYOD) strategy.

Both Novell and NTP Software's mobile file sharing programs—Filr and Universal File Access, respectively—use some of the same methodology in terms of file sharing, determining access rights and establishing user identification protocols by way of existing filers and currently active directories. But not surprisingly, there are also some significant differences in the way the two file sharing systems operate.

Novell's Filr, said to be part of an effort to get back to its original roots in workload management, brings in an on-premises virtual appliance that brings applications to the users through currently existing file servers. The appliance then uses the company's active directory to verify that users should be accessing certain files, which means there's no need to make a new user repository of verified users. Also, this makes it easier to find out who's accessing content behind a firewall, with an eye toward spotting the unauthorized users.

Filr puts something of a special emphasis on security in file transfer, using the same kind of authentication systems that banks use in transaction processing, secure socket layer. Plus, for mobile devices, Filr counts on device encryption already on board with most devices, and can get some benefit with augmentation from things like mobile device management tools.

On the other hand, NTP's Universal File Access offers up its file transfer capability as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS (News - Alert)) offering. It works with a Windows-driven virtual machine that's on-premises and can work with a private cloud, object stores, and most storage hosts. This also works with NTP's Cloud Connector system as a way to establish that connection between the internal storage and the BYOD Manager systems.

This combination of systems allows mobile device users to connect to home data storage in much the same way they would be connected through a desktop, so the interface should prove familiar and easy to work with, based on reports from Bruce Backa, NTP's CEO. NTP is quick to note however, that Universal File Access isn't a "sync and share" sort of program, but rather a more controlled experience. Since Universal File Access won't allow any executable files to be stored, that removes the chances of being hit with viruses. No apps can be copied either, which helps in terms of licensing agreements.

The other major difference between the two is cost. NTP's Universal File Access requires a subscription at $99 per year per user, or $10 a month, but also requires users to buy a "core technology license" at $15,000 up front. Novell's Filr though only sells at the subscriber level, charging $45 per user per year. In terms of sheer cost-effectiveness, Novell has the win hands-down, but NTP's system does seem to offer quite a bit that Novell doesn't immediately seem to offer.

Still, though, it's clear that these two companies are looking to get high-end file sharing systems into play. Though their strategies—and prices—may differ, the end result is still a powerful one, and one that will provide businesses with a whole new way to keep mobile workers in the loop.

Edited by Jamie Epstein
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