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How Little Huddle Gets To Be a Billion Dollar Company

Enterprise sync is 20 times more complex than personal sync

Huddle Tuesday launched what it calls the first intelligent sync platform for the enterprise. It also happens to enable cloud collaboration on-the-go.

The widgetry, now effectively in public beta, predicts the files you’re going to be most interested in and syncs them to your mobile devices and desktop. Should you want more content from the cloud, you can view all the files you have permission to access via placeholder files on your device. Simply click to download them. Everything is always encrypted.

This is the product that Huddle had in mind when it got started four years ago. CEO Alastair Mitchell thinks it’s going to lift Huddle revenues to a billion dollars in three years, mostly by ousting the great SharePoint, which brings Microsoft $10 billion a year. (Of course Huddle could always get bought in the meantime.)

Huddle Sync, which is what the app is called, is meant to let the enterprise keep track of who has synced what files and where its data is stored, with full audit trails, granular permissions and remote wipe capabilities if a device get lost or stolen.

Unlike consumer sync tools, Alastair figures it’s the answer to a CIO’s prayers, shooing away his recurring nightmare of data leakage, content abuse and no record of where the content is stored.

It can let everyone in an organization securely access the entire corporate knowledge store and syncs only relevant documents to the user’s desktop and mobile devices in real-time. CIOs, currently awash in BYOD gismos, regain control of the data being shared within and across the firewall thanks to the audit trails and granular permission settings and end users can work on the latest version of their content when offline.

After giving users access to files of immediate interest, Huddle Sync also promises to make recommendations of other relevant content that could theoretically come from other Huddle accounts unknown to the user.

Huddle’s got a patent pending on this recommendation engine, which is based on predictive technology and learning algorithms.

Linked to workers’ actions in Huddle, it’s supposed to intelligently select files most relevant to users for full sync. Without having to sync the entire corporate knowledge store onto their devices, placeholder files give workers visibility of all the files available to them, limiting their bandwidth consumption and reducing the likelihood of enterprise data being compromised.

Since the tool manages version conflicts, teams don’t have to waste time reconciling changes or replicating work, and everyone has the most up-to- date files.

The widgetry, which Alastair figures makes content intelligent, isn’t standalone. It needs Huddle’s existing collaboration software to work so it comes as a free add-on. Huddle’s stuff lists for $20-$40 a user a month. The company, which says it’s been trebling every year, claims 100,000 users including folks in 70% of the Fortune 500.

“Cross-enterprise file sync is a very different and more complex challenge than personal file sync,” Alastair says. “Enterprises have to sync not just an individual’s data, but that of everyone across the organization and make it securely available offline on multiple devices. On average, a document in Huddle is securely shared with 20 other people, making enterprise sync 20 times more complex than personal sync.”

The app currently supports Windows and iPhone. The next iteration will add iPad, Android and Mac. Blackberry depends on what happens to RIM. Huddle offers a free trial. To register interest in the Sync beta, see www.huddle.com/huddlesync.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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