AeroFS makes cloud collaboration free for up to 30 users

Security-focused service offers a private enterprise cloud with unlimited data

AeroFS offers centralized security and administration

AeroFS offers centralized security and administration

When it comes to sharing data in the cloud, there's more than one way to deliver security. There's encryption, for instance, which is used by services such as Dropbox to keep data safe. There's also technology such as Box's new Encryption Key Management tool, which aims to give users additional control.

AeroFS take another approach. Whereas most purveyors of cloud file, sync and share services ultimately still store users' data on their own servers in data centers around the world, AeroFS's private cloud offering keeps data on-premises. Targeting enterprise workgroups, the service is "like Dropbox, but behind your firewall," in the company's own words, and on Wednesday it became free for up to 30 users -- and pledged to remain that way forever.

Cloud storage services with freemium pricing models have contributed to the phenomenon in companies known as "shadow IT," whereby employees bring unauthorized tools into the workplace simply to avoid the hassles that can be associated with obtaining them officially, said Yuri Sagalov, AeroFS's CEO.

AeroFS delivers its service through a lightweight virtual appliance that can be deployed in minutes on any on-premises server, thereby making it more likely to satisfy corporate security requirements, Sagalov said. Employees, meanwhile, can share and sync unlimited amounts of data quickly and privately.

It may be tempting to compare an on-premises, private cloud like AeroFS with the traditional approach of simply using on-site storage arrays, but the company's service goes much further, Sagalov said. For example, it provides features not usually found in storage arrays, such as offline access, real-time sync, versioning, notifications of changes and collaborative sharing, he said.

AeroFS also allows users to share internally and externally through secure links, with both password protection and expiration dates as options, he added. "Users can also create their own shares, which is usually impossible with a storage array."

AeroFS can be centrally secured and managed from an administrative dashboard; it can also be integrated with a user company's existing LDAP or Active Directory infrastructure and OpenID.

Among the benefits are guaranteed end-to-end encryption and private certificate authority, the company said, along with data-leakage prevention through remote revocation and deletion authority.

AeroFS's former pricing of $15 per month per user applies now just for teams of 31 or more. The free product can be downloaded from the company's website.

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