Gartner changes EFSS Magic Quadrant to content collaboration with Box and Microsoft leading

Box and Microsoft lead the way on vision and execution in Gartner’s recently released Magic Quadrant for content collaboration platforms – but it doesn’t quite tell the full story.

If you are unfamiliar with the name of the report, there is a good reason. The Quadrant was previously known as EFSS (enterprise file sync and share), with the analyst firm changing the definitions this year to reflect a shift in the market.

As Box puts it, content collaboration platforms ‘go beyond EFSS to also facilitate team collaboration and content workflows’; a point backed up by Tom Grave, SVP marketing at CTERA Networks, who found a place as a niche player in the report. Grave said that as ‘content’ lined up with ‘file’, and ‘collaboration’ lined up with ‘sharing’, it still gave an accurate view of the market but with room to expand.

“It certainly makes sense for us,” he told CloudTech. “I think that file sharing is an accurate term, and content collaboration can be a little more specific and also more specifically aligned with what you’re trying to do. [Employees are] not just sharing files for the sake of sharing them, they’re collaborating.

“Increasingly, organisations are distributed – we’ve got mobile workers all over the globe, systems for collaborating with their peers,” he added. “We definitely support the name and it makes sense – it’s a term that resonates.”

Of the 13 vendors who made the cut, seven made the top right leaders zone; Axway – essentially Syncplicity, which was bought by Axway in February – Box, Citrix, Dropbox, Egnyte, Google, and Microsoft.

Saying that it was a leader in all content markets, Box said it agreed with Gartner’s analysis ‘that the realities of business and technology today are forcing a change in the way organisations think about content.’ “With higher than ever customer expectations and increasing pressure on IT to deliver, content, collaboration and security need to be central to overall IT and business strategy,” Joely Urton, VP outbound marketing at Box, wrote in a company blog post.

Dropbox pointed to its most recent product releases, including the introduction of Dropbox Paper, a teamwork and collaboration tool, and Smart Sync, as an indication of both its success and the changing shape of the market. “By connecting the creation, feedback, organisation, and distribution steps that happen across different tools today, Dropbox is reducing the frustration and miscommunication that can slow teams down,” wrote Rob Baesman, senior director of product management.

As is frequently the case with these reports however – and as Gartner always insists – the top right axis is not the be all and end all. For certain workloads and organisations, each member of the Quadrant has its own strengths.

Similar to Egnyte, CTERA, who last made the report in 2015, narrows its focus on the enterprise market. The company offers two primary products; CTERA Drive, the app, and, crucially, CTERA Gateway, a physical appliance which enables share drives, but is also connected back to the cloud. Gartner says the company is ‘a good fit for organisations with highly distributed users and offices, and priorities on data privacy or data sovereignty.’

As a result, Grave prefers to use the term ‘focus’ instead of ‘niche’.  “That’s the key,” he said. “Any two-person shop can go to Dropbox, or Box, or Google with a credit card and start using their service automatically, and that’s just not our position in the market. We’re not trying to be universal for any individual or very small customer.”

CTERA – who also launched its 6.0 iteration last week – says it hangs its hat on security as well as ‘cloud choice’, or ‘infrastructure choice’ – and this differentiation gives customers who have a particular focus on security options compared with software as a service (SaaS) vendors. “Depending on the profile of the customer, the more important [security] is, and especially when it’s not just broad security, but some of the specifics within security and privacy that different customers care differently to us, they align themselves to us,” said Grave.

“Wherever data sovereignty is involved, where IT has to very specifically know the location of all the data and being able for IT to access it themselves, and giving IT not only the ability to encrypt end to end, but always control encryption keys so there’s no third party they’re delegating or deferring to for managing encryption – those two factors are critical for a certain class of customer, and that would eliminate a lot of software as a service vendors who run in the top right,” Grave added.

You can read a copy of the report from CTERA’s page here (registration required).