Interview with Thru: “Safe Harbor Promoting Market Consolidation” (Click here for original article in German)The ECJ has tilted the “Safe Harbor” recently-agreement. Although for quite some time it has been foreseeable that companies need to pay attention to the local storage of their data, now this is probably inevitable. Ian Snead, EVP of Sales and Marketing at file sharing specialists Thru, talked to (Click here for original article in German) about what impact this has on public cloud providers, hosters and enterprises.

Q: Thru offers EFSS and MFT solutions. These products have been on the market for quite a while – what is new these days?

Snead: In the past these solutions have traditionally been sold as a license. We now offer it as not only a cloud-based service, but also as hybrid model. This has also brought in demands for local data centers by customers, especially in Europe who demand local presence. There has also been a lot of progress of how deep EFSS systems can be integrated and customized in front and backend systems with our breadth of APIs to guarantee full integration in all systems. In the recent days, Thru has expanded on areas like security, mobility and the transfer speeds.

Q: Vendors that offer these solutions seem to pop up like mushrooms. How do you differentiate yourself from public cloud offerings like Box or Dropbox Business?

Snead: One of our biggest differentiators is that we do not have any free users on our platform – our focus is 100% on enterprises, which ensures enterprise level features, security and reliability at the core. Our platform can also be deployed in one of our data centers or on the customer’s own premises, which most other vendors cannot offer, surely not solutions based in the public cloud. Unlike Box or Dropbox, Thru offers unlimited file size uploads and full file virus scan at upload, ensuring enterprise needs & security is really the core of our product offering. Thru also offers deep integrations, due to our breadth of APIs – our outlook Plug-in with it’s side panel and drag drop capability- enables employees to access content and work within their mailbox – which is still the #1, collaboration platform for all businesses.

Q: The European Court of Justice has recently ruled, that data of EU-customers saved in a US data center “does not afford an adequate level of protection of personal data”. How do you see the problem as a technology vendor from the US with customers in Europe?

Snead: It is certainly a big problem for vendors that do not have a solution that can be deployed on-premises or that do not have local data centers. We have both and are even expanding our local footprint with a new data center to open in Germany in the next few months. I think the recent safe harbor ruling will accelerate the consolidation in this market as only vendors with advanced solutions and local data centers will be able to compete in demanding regions like Europe.

Q: It seems that the data that went out into the world is coming back home. Which companies can profit from this trend?

Snead: Indeed, world-class data centers are now available in every country and since customers demand to know where their data is stored physically, the data is coming back closer to the customers. They can choose if it will be behind their own firewall or in a trustworthy data center nearby. Local hosters should benefit from this trend. At the same time many smaller technology vendors won’t be able to afford many local data centers and will lose their customer’s trust as they cannot guarantee that third parties, including governments, won’t be able to access their data.

Q: The “Internet of Things (IOT)” offers a lot of challenges for the storage market. A problem is not just the storing data part but the transferring of data. How do you assess this challenge?

Snead: The main challenge with smart devices is security and performance. The most common method for updating devices such as smart phones etc. is firmware over the air (FOTA) but this has limitations with file size, entitlement and scaling performance. What is needed is a global network to deliver firmware updates over secure enterprise protocols where all the transaction activity is recorded and available as dashboards and reports. To solve this, we have developed a multi layered SOA architecture that scales vertically and horizontally to support a very large number of concurrent connections. As a result, and unlike regular SFTPs, our Thru SFTP can launch any required number of SFTP virtual servers to serve a required number of load-balanced connections that point to one storage and one audit database. Keeping billions of smart devices updated can only be achieved with a network like this and whoever will manage a lot of devices, of whatever kind, will have to invest into a solution to help him manage those data transfers.

Q: 2015 has just ended. Which trends in this area do you see for 2016?

Snead: The market is seeing a lot of interesting trends as customers are asking for more and better ways to do things. Contextual search and intelligent content serving are parts of the EFSS trends that we anticipate. Another interesting trend is the personalization of content based on roles and departments. Customers are also asking for a single solution to manage their content and data that complies with the enterprise standards – sometimes looking for something that integrates with their existing business applications.