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Emergent Collaboration Vendor Review: SkyDox


Posted by on February 24, 2012

UPDATED 2/24

Every Friday, I’ll be reviewing a vendor in the emergent collaboration space and will provide an overview on that vendor which includes aspects from leadership and vision to technology and market focus. If you are vendor and would like to participate, please contact me (my email address is in the sidebar as is my Twitter link). The goal of these posts is not to bash or praise vendors but to simply offer an objective view on what various vendors offer so that YOU can decide if they are a good fit for your business. Every post will cover the same elements for each vendors. If you have ideas or recommendations for other items to be covered in these reviews, please let me know and I will consider them. Other collaboration vendor reviews can be found here.

This week I’m taking at look at SkyDox which was founded in 2009 and is currently headquartered in London with around 20 employees.  The company has developed a cloud-enabled file-sharing and collaboration platform that allows companies to view, comment, search, store, deliver, manage and collaborate on over 200 types of files.  Skydox has spent two years in product development with input from enterprise development customers in media, finance, creative, and professional services.  The management team comes from a diverse background, holding senior level positions in enterprise software, high availability data center infrastructure, SaaS, and document comparison technology areas.  I spoke with Ali Moinuddin the CMO and Dan Von Weihe the VP of product management.

Integration capabilities

With SkyDox, companies need not replace their current software in order to harness the benefits of the cloud.  SkyDox integrates with enterprise content management and office productivity tools, such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PPT and Sharepoint, as well as Documentum and IBM’s filenet. It provides plugins for the MS Office Suite (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) that integrate out-of-the box and into the users’ native application.  These plugins bring SkyDox platforms’ functionality into the application, so users do not have to launch a bowser to benefit from SkyDox’s cloud-enables platform, which includes, activity feeds, IM style commenting, meetings and conference calls, and presence indicators.  The two-way integration is out-of-the- box, allowing companies to upload and extract data and documents from the SkyDox cloud platform easily.

Support

For enterprise customers there is a dedicated, 24/7 support line.  SkyDox also offers a knowledge portal and self-help support content for any user with a business license.  A ticketing system (run during business hours) is also available to request support.  Overall, the support system includes: online support, email support, phone support, and user group – all available 24/7.  All aspects of the SkyDox platform may be set up, authenticated, provisioned, purchased, downloaded, installed and administered through self-help user and administrative interfaces.  Content is typically loaded into the system through connections to each user’s personal collection of files.  Larger organisational collections of data can be moved onto the SkyDox system through bespoke projects according to scope and process relevant to the project.

Pricing

There are three kinds of users: business, enterprise, and guests.  Here is a rundown of each

Business (for small to medium sized teams, departments or businesses that collaborate internally and externally).

  • $15 / month
  • Per seat licensing
  • 2G upload storage limit per file
  • 500GB total
  • Limited functionality
  • 30 day free trial
  • 3 – 100 seats

Enterprise: Price on Application (for organizations that require scalable document sharing and collaboration tools customised to their business and integrated with third party applications).

  • Volume licencing
  • ECM and workflow Integration
  • Custom deployment
  • Flexible storage options (Per user and total)
  • Up to 99.99% SLA
  • Private Cloud deployment
  • 100 plus seats

Guest:

  • A Guest login is available free of charge to people who have been invited to a file or folder by an Enterprise or Business user.

Maintenance & Upgrades

As a SaaS vendor, upgrades and support are built into the enterprise and business license fee, with no additional costs.  SkyDox normally releases a product upgrade around once a quarter.  They develop upgrades based on a combination of following their product roadmap while also integrating customer feedback and development requests.

Overall direction and strategic vision for the company and industry

The company’s vision is to make secure enterprise collaboration simpler and easier by creating a single platform that harnesses social business, file sharing, storage and synchronization tools to deliver a user- and content-centric collaboration experience.

Not all technology makes life easy, so SkyDox always thinking about how to get closer to the business user to make their life easier.  They looked at Box and DropBox and thought of ways to make those types of technologies better and combining them with emerging Web 3.0 technologies.  SkyDocs put a strong focus on simplicity and ease of use, while also looking to integrate profile-type of information for employees.   They are looking to explore partnerships to handle the remaining internal social networking features that some of the other platforms have.

They will continue to focus on document- and user-centric collaboration management and rely on others for the rest of the functionality.  SkyDox is looking to raise more money in 2012 and expand the team to focus on the product, marketing, awareness and visibility.  They believe the cloud collaboration market is still in its infancy but they are mainly seeing demand for adding new social business functionality to legacy ECMs and DMS.  There is a lot of interest in new tools, but also lots of reluctance to abandon old tools.  SkyDox believes that we will definitely see consolidation in the freemium space.

Key differentiating factors from competition

1. Secure file-sharing and content management

SkyDox allows users to create workspaces and multi-level folders for secure online storage, access, sharing and collaboration. Extended file-format and file-size support enable users to upload and view virtually any file type or file size depending on a service-level agreement (SLA).  Version control, drag-and-drop upload features and file synchronisation simplify the collaboration experience for both online and offline work.

2. Document-centric, secure collaboration and communication

SkyDox offers a folder and file-centric collaboration experience. Users can upload, review, make content-specific comments, and update documents based on specific user defined permissions. Additionally, the rich collaboration functionality includes file-level presence indicators, real-time and personalized activity alerts, activity feeds, Web-based meetings, screen sharing, and social media publishing.

3. Administrative controls and insight

System administrators can oversee account activity and settings using the SkyDox account management console. They can add or remove users, edit user details and change account settings. Administrators and users are provided with graphical insights about system and file access and uploads, as well as file-level tracking and audit trails. Branding features allow SkyDox administrators to create a unique look and feel using custom wallpapers and logos.

4. Mobile access

SkyDox supports over 20 mobile operating systems, including those for iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, Palm, Windows Phone and Nokia.

5. Flexible deployment options

These include a private hosted cloud exclusively for the use of one organisation or community; a highly secure public hosted cloud that is non-geographically specific and can be accessed wherever there is an Internet connection by individuals, public and private sector organisations; and an on-premise behind-the-firewall deployment.

Customization

SkyDox built custom plug-in applications for Microsoft Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint and a deep two-way integration into SharePoint, bringing the cloud and social business tools, networking and collaboration functionality to Microsoft.  They support nearly every major file types from popular productivity applications, including video, spread sheets, pictures and PDFs.  Enterprise customers can set up workflows and or request customization as required. These are fully supported by the SkyDoxDev and implementation teams.

Time to go live

Sign up is self-provisioned – as easy as registering a profile on Facebook , taking less than a minute.   When ECM (enterprise content management) integrations are concerned, the time to go live may vary from one week to three months.  This depends on the scope of customization and workflow requirements and regional roll out plans as well as the information architecture of an organization ( centralized or distributed).

Overall technology and security

SkyDox has data center partners in the U.S, Europe and Asia.  They store data in Switzerland because they have the most stringent data security laws, allowing SkyDox to meet European data location legislation.   All data centre partners are ISO 201/SAS 70/FDA/HIPAA certified.

Regarding user authentication, all transactions with SkyDox must be executed from within the context of a personal, authenticated user account.  Access to view or edit content stored or shared with the SkyDox platform is only possible once users have been authenticated by creating unique passwords and verifying their email addresses.

SkyDox encrypts personal information and digital content before it leaves the user’s computer with 128-bit Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology to ensure that no one else can read it.  As for application layer security – SkyDox stores all files in a proprietary, binary-fragmented format rather than the original format.  This means that files are unintelligible except to users and guests who have gained authenticated access through the SkyDox platform.

SkyDox has an open source philosophy that enables them to enhance their platform with new functionality as the market evolves.

Industry/vertical focus

Companies that have an abundance of knowledge workers, and ‘knowledge based’ vertical sectors, which include:

  • Creative services (PR, Marketing, Advertising , media bysing services)
  • Professional service
  • Financial services
  • Technology and Telecommunications
  • Government and Education
  • Legal
  • Healthcare /Pharma.
  • Not for Profit

Capabilities (customer, partner, employee collaboration)

Employee and partner (can share information with customers but not develop managed customer communities)

My take

You know, I’m really starting to wonder how some of the vendors I’m reviewing aren’t as big as some of the mainstream vendors out there (of course I know the answers is mainly marketing).  It’s actually a bit frustrating to see really great vendors which are not as widely known as the “bigger guys”.  This brings me to SkyDox.

The best way to describe SkyDox is sort of like a Box, Google Docs, Wiki, and Gotomeeting mix.  SkyDox really focuses on content and information management and collaboration but it isn’t what I would call a collaboration suite.  For example you wouldn’t really use SkyDox to find subject matter experts within your organization, submit ideas to a general community, or use it for Q&A platform.  You may technically be able to do some of these things but that is not the focus of what SkyDox is.  For full “social” functionality SkyDox is better used when integrated with something else such as a Sharepoint or Jive (as is Box).

As far as I can tell SkyDox has most (if not all) of the features of Box.  I say most because I wasn’t sure about things such as Google Apps integration, Desktop sync, Ipad access (which I’m assuming they don’t have since I didn’t see an app in the app store), or public sharing of files (for example send a link to someone not in the application who can view, download, or edit a document).  Enterprise customers do enjoy a few extras though such as meeting and web conferencing directly within SkyDox (which is not something that Box offers along with synchronous editing which SkyDox does have).

UPDATED

I was just told that SkyDox can be used via the Ipad with all the same functionality.  Although an app doesn’t exist it can be accessed via the mobile version of the site.  Also, links can be made public to share files with others.

The flexible deployment options are great and the pricing is very comparable to what other vendors are offering.  The integration with MS Office is something I also think has been very well done, you can actually access and see SkyDox right from your Office applications.  Finally, I really like that “guests” don’t require a separate license to use the platform which means that if I have a client I want to invite to work with me on a strategy document, they can do so free of charge.

The one thing I wish Skydox had was a slightly different look and feel.  To me, some of the icons and visuals feel a bit dated and old and could use a more modern refresh.

Overall SkyDox is a platform which should be considered for any size company that is looking at document and information management and collaboration solutions.  I can tell you right away that if you are looking at a vendor like Box, you should also be looking at SkyDox.  I can’t believe the company is only 20 people and I’m expecting some very interesting things to happen if/when they secure another round of financing.

To find out more check out their website at SkyDox.com

Screenshots

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