One of the biggest announcements we made at Synergy Barcelona is the “StorageZones” feature of ShareFile Enterprise.  StorageZones is now generally available for all new and existing customers of ShareFile Enterprise.

For most customers, the most interesting aspect of StorageZones is that it enables ShareFile data to be located “on premises” in one’s own data center. For a variety of reasons–compliance, data sovereignty, and performance–placing ShareFile data on premises is something a number of our customers are interested in. But this is far from the whole story on StorageZones, which I’ll get to later.

Before I jump into the details of StorageZones, let’s take a step back and describe the ShareFile product architecture.  ShareFile is composed of two sub-systems:

  • The Control system. This subsystem provides the ShareFile web application, account information (assuming you aren’t using Active Directory integration), and brokering services. It is maintained in Citrix datacenters, just as all of our Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products such as GoToMeeting, GoToMyPC, etc. Note that customers will soon have the choice of setting up ShareFile accounts on the domain, where the control system lives in our Frankfurt-based data center. This complements what we offer today, where the control system lives in our US-based data centers.
  • The Storage system. This is where the files actually live. Prior to StorageZones, customers had a choice of 8 worldwide Cloud-based locations–3 in the US, Dublin, Tokyo, Singapore, Sao Paolo, and Sydney (added in early December 2012). Citrix ShareFile operations uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) in each of these locations. The primary component in the storage system that Citrix ShareFile operations manages is called ”Storage Center.”

With StorageZones, the storage system can be placed in any location: Citrix-managed locations, or customer-managed (on-premises) locations. For customer-managed locations, essentially what we’ve done is enable customers to install the Storage Center component in the location of their choice. You can find a video of this process on CitrixTV.

Customer-managed StorageZones enable root folder locations to be manually specified within a ShareFile customer account. For example, an “Asia-Pacific” sales folder could be located in a Sydney zone; a “UK Sales” folder could be placed in a London-based zone. This ensures optimal performance for users, and addresses data sovereignty and compliance requirements for IT. Note that a single ShareFile account can have use both Citrix-managed, and customer-managed StorageZones.

One key point about StorageZones: this does not mean ShareFile has become a 100% “on-premises” product. ShareFile is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering, with the flexibility of hosting files either on-premise or in Citrix-managed ShareFile Cloud storage. We believe very strongly in the benefits of this architecture, in that a SaaS approach keeps the product up-to-date for our customers at all times and allows us to innovate & add new features quickly. This also lowers the operational costs for our customers. For example, you’ll never have to consider the costs and time involved in an upgrade project from one version of ShareFile to another. There are other products on the market which are installed and maintained 100% on-premise, like traditional enterprise software. At the present time, this is not what we aspire to do with ShareFile.

We aim to take StorageZones even further in the future*, and are working on a number of different initiatives:

  • StorageZone Connectors. The idea behind StorageZone Connectors is to provide secure access to existing file stores, such as network shares and Microsoft SharePoint. Imagine your Windows file shares being available on your iPad or iPhone alongside your ShareFile data, and you get the idea. We’ve just released a Tech Preview of StorageZone Connectors, with support for access to network shares via the iPad and iPhone apps.
  • Supporting more Citrix-managed StorageZone options beyond AWS. Amazon’s global coverage with AWS is great, but we’re also interested in supporting other cloud services with presence in markets such as China, the central US, continental Europe, Australia, Canada, and many more. We’ve announced our intention to support Microsoft Azure, and are actively working with Microsoft to enable Citrix-managed and customer-managed StorageZones in Azure.
  • Enabling administrators to select a specific Citrix-managed StorageZone locations for root-level folders. For example, if you have a global deployment, your Asian users’ home folders can be placed in AWS-Singapore or AWS-Tokyo; and your European users’ home folders can be placed in AWS-Dublin.

With the generally availability of ShareFile with StorageZones, we’ve reached a big milestone with the product. And as you can see, we’ve only just begun…

Bill Carovano
ShareFile Product Management

Follow me on Twitter: @bill_carovano

*Disclaimer: The development, release and timing of any features or functionality described for our products remains at our sole discretion and is subject to change without notice or consultation. The information provided is for informational purposes only and is not a commitment, promise or legal obligation to deliver any material, code or functionality and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions or incorporated into any contract.