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Syncplicity and Axway - a match made in heaven?

Its latest buyer might be its best chance so far of being put to good use

Like an unwanted puppy, Syncplicity has been passed on once again -after foundering at EMC and haded off to private equity firms, the firm was snapped up again by Franco-American firm Axway this week.

So has the enterprise file share and sync (EFSS) firm finally found a forever home?

Axway, of course, says yes - after all, it just splashed an (undisclosed) amount of money on the purchase.

"It's not a product that is competing with any other internal products we have, it's really extending our portfolio," Joel Depernet, EVP of R&D at Axway told IT Pro. "Combining the Syncplicity products with our MFT solution [means providing] some human-centric file collaboration - the Syncplicitiy offering - and the application-centric file collaboration with our own offer."

Note the key word in that statement: "combining". Depernet said Axway won't be killing off the Syncplicity brand or distinct product line, which are well known in wider business and a "key asset" respectively, but it will be increasingly intermeshed with the company's MFT (Managed File Transfer) offering in particular.

But making the most of the acquisition is going to require further investment.

"The problem with cloud systems such as Syncplicity is that they are becoming increasingly sidelined as the likes of Dropbox and Box improve their systems and grow the ecosystems around them to create fully-enterprise ready systems," Clive Longbottom, founder and research director of analyst firm Quocirca told IT Pro. "However, Axway is a more full-function collaboration system, and Syncplicity can fit OK within this."

"The problem for Axway will be in embracing Syncplicity in the right way - using it as a base platform, while still accepting the realities of the big players being part of the mix as well," he added.

Axway has been talking up the power of EFSS following the acquisition, with Depernet saying the company hopes its acquisition of Syncplicity will enable it to become "a key actor" in the space. He also pointed to research showing the EFSS market continues to grow.

Chris Marsh, head of the workforce productivity and compliance team at 451 Research, told IT Pro he "highly doubted" the company is looking to run a standalone service, though.

"We do see stand-alone providers still increasing market penetration and user numbers but with commoditisation of general functionality over recent years we have seen two things happen. The first being new more distinct value propositions (e.g. focusing on highly regulated industries, hybrid deployment options as standard, information governance features, communications and collaboration capabilities). The second and, more pertinent to this deal, is the proliferation of EFSS functionality as a feature in other business applications and workforce platforms," said Marsh.

Indeed, from what Depernet said, it seems this is the direction Axway will be going.

"If you look at the Syncplicity features that have been delivered in the last quarter, there are many features around the integration with Office 365, for example. So I feel that we'll have to invest in this area to continue to [bring in] integration with those more online collaboration tools, rather than the pure EFSS and to integrate the two," said Depernet.

However, he added that while people have tried to write off both EFSS and MFT, both areas continue to grow.

"The real value that we want to provide is a combination between the two," said Depernet. "The file need will not disappear. What we will have to do - which is already part of the Syncplicity roadmap and we will continue to do it - is integrate natively within Syncplicity systems those collaboration tools."

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