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Startup DirectShare Aims to Shake Up Enterprise File-Sharing

When the file you want to share is really big, why bother with the cloud?

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When the need arises to send a large data file from a computer in one place to a computer in another, cloud computing has in the last several years stepped in to help make it easy.

Chances are you can name the products because at one time or another you’ve used them: Dropbox, Box, Egnyte and Hightail are all names that come to mind. They all vary by features and how they work, but fundamentally, they all run primarily in the cloud, and sometimes in combination with the storage gear your company has on site.

What that means is that when you share a file with someone else, you first have to upload it to a machine running in the cloud services’s data center. Then the person you’re sharing with has to download it, while your cloud service acts as a middleman. When the files are really, really big — video, CAD files, medical images and the like — the wait time for sharing can be several hours. Plus there’s often the added worries associated with security: You never know for sure if unseen hackers may be lurking.

An early-stage company called Cloudtenna, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., has what it claims is a new approach: Skip the whole upload-download thing altogether.

The company just unveiled a new product called DirectShare. It calls its technique Direct Collaboration File Share, and the only thing that gets shared with its cloud service is the metadata associated with the file: Its name, where it’s located, basically everything there is to know about it, except for the file itself.

The person invited to share the file clicks a link that establishes a secure, direct connection, and downloads it without the need for the third-party middleman. Cloudtenna says it can move some files 10 times faster than other methods. It works with existing infrastructure and can support whatever regulatory compliance systems are in use.

Founder Aaron Ganek said the company is offering a service with a monthly per-user fee, similar to its would-be competitors, but without the hassle of the upload-download process. “Uploading is painful,” he said.

Early customers include Pacific Energy Development, which deployed DirectShare in its datacenter for sharing files between offices in California and Texas. Another, oddly enough, is a storage company: Nimble Storage uses DirectShare to securely distribute business documents to members of its board of directors. “Nimble was a Box customer when it came to sharing,” Ganek said. “Now it can use its own internal equipment and share its documents faster than before.”

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