File Sharing Vendor YouSendIt Launches Workstream

March 6 2012 08:00:00 AM Comments Disabled
Despite the preaching of the "2.0 crowd" about online collaboration via blogs, wikis and web-based office suites like Google Docs or Office365, the reality is most business professionals still share information via email and file attachments. This method of working has several problems including restrictive email size/storage limits, firewalls that may block sharing outside of your company, version control issues, tracking and compliance policies and more. The market for file sharing and files synchronization across multiple devices is a hot space, with vendors such as Box, DropBox and YouSendIt offering both personal and enterprise solutions.

Today, YouSendIt announced a new product line named Workstream by YouSendIt™. Workstream claims to makes it easier for people who use Microsoft Outlook and/or Microsoft SharePoint to share files with people outside of their company. My Point of View summary is at the bottom of this blog post.

In a product briefing last week Tony Nemelka, CMO and Mihir Nanavati, VP of Product told me the see the difference between Workstream and its competitors being that Workstream is designed to enable people to continue working with the Microsoft products they use today, they are not attempting to replace any of the Microsoft tools. For example, when sending an email from Outlook attachments can automatically be stored in Workstream's cloud-based platform and the email recipients will receive a link to download the file. Similarly, people can right click on a file in a SharePoint Library and share the file via Workstream.

"What sets us apart is our strategy to embed in business workflows. We focus on helping our customers make the most out of the investments that they have already made. We don’t expect our customers to throw them out and start from scratch." -
Tony Nemelka, CMO

On the IT side, Workstream can be configured to allow authentication via a company's existing Active Directory credentials. Administrators can keep track of file sharing as Workstream records the dates, file names and sizes of sent documents, the recipient email addresses and names of the people who download the files. Admins can also configure whitelists/blacklists to control which domains people are able to share with (for example, preventing sharing with your competitors) as well as define an expiration period for shared files.


Workstream by YouSendIt, Security Policies


Workstream has desktop clients for both Windows and Macs, as well as mobile clients for iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

You can view the pricing plans for Workstream and compare them to Box (see their promotions) and DropBox.


MyPOV


For companies looking to reduce the storage issues of their Microsoft Exchange email servers, Workstream offers a good way to provide functionality to employees with very little training. The problem is the current version (first release) offers very little in the way of collaboration features. There is no way to comment and have discussions around shared files. You can not add tags nor Like/Favourite items the way most social networking services let people do today. YouSendIt executives tell me features like these are on the product roadmap though.

As for integration, the Workstream web site says "Use Workstream's rich set of APIs to add content-sharing functionality to enterprise business systems, including ECM, CRM, business intelligence, and many others." I'm glad to see them provide APIs, but to compete with other products in this space YouSendIt is going to need to provide a catalog of pre-build add-ons and integrations, not require customers to build them themselves. For example, Box's App Store has hundreds of add-ons, including one for Outlook.

One pet-peeve I had today when using Workstream was that I could not select multiple files and click download, I had to download each file one at a time.

YouSendIt has a solid base of companies using their product today (their press release claims across 98 percent of the Fortune 500), but the initial release of Workstream lacks many of the features currently offered by its competitors. However, if companies are not looking for a lot of bells and whistles and simply want to improve file sharing in their Microsoft environment, as well as have access to files from a variety of mobile devices, then Workstream is a solid offering with tight Microsoft integration, granular security controls and good auditing and tracking capabilities.

This space is very hot right now, with at least two other vendors making announcements in the next few weeks.  Take your time an evaluate what your needs are in this space are before deciding on a vendor. Considerations include: your hosting requirements, want type and variety of access methods you want your employees to have, how much security and reporting you need, size of partner ecosystem, and finally cost.