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http://www.backupreview.info

http://www.SyncBlaze.com

http://www.vembu.com

rating

(4 Stars out of possible 5)

Reviewed on December 03, 2012

Update: On Feb. 19, 2013, Vembu added new features to SyncBlaze. Click here for details.

Note: Click on images found below to view enlarged screen captures.

Summary

Vembu Technologies, headquartered in Chennai, India is a well recognized and trusted leader in providing best-in-breed and reliable managed IT solutions. The company has been regularly featured in CRN’s Annual Emerging Vendors list and has won some of the most coveted awards like the ‘Deloitte Technology Fast 50’ and ‘Red Herring 100 Asia’. It was also a finalist in the VAR Business Tech Innovator Award and in the Windows IT Pro Award for Interoperability.

Vembu offers StoreGrid, a data protection solution, and SyncBlaze, an online file sharing and collaboration solution to existing and potential channel market. The products are affordable and available for a 30-day full feature trial download from the website of the company. It is marketed through Managed Service Providers (MSPs), Managed Hosting Providers (MHPs) and Value added Resellers (VARs).

Vembu’s SyncBlaze is a scalable, flexible, robust and affordable solution tailored to meet the needs of small and medium organizations for instantly sharing and collaborating on their business content. SyncBlaze users can synchronize or access their office documents, presentations, bookmarked web pages, meeting notes and any other kinds of documents from within the application interface and their mobile devices.

Ease of use for the end users and tighter security for the IT admin are in principle, the core aspects of SyncBlaze’s content management technology. Users can categorize, capture, organize, and manage documents from multiple sources. A powerful search engine dynamically creates the necessary metadata and indexes for e-discovery of documents from all kinds of devices. Data created in a variety of applications including Google Apps, embedded multimedia and social media, bookmarks, RSS feeds or notes can be stored and retrieved with absolute ease.  Data can be accessed from anywhere and from any kind of computing device or mobile device at any time.

SyncBlaze promotes business productivity without compromising security. Files can be shared as a link within or outside the user domain or other group members or groups of users can be invited to collaborate on a specific document with a few clicks—irrespective of whether the device in use is a workstation or a tablet or a smart phone unit.  However, information access and sharing is governed by role based, policy defined protocols that can be tweaked into the SyncBlaze’s administrative application settings.

SyncBlaze is a sophisticated and effective alternative to FTP servers and File servers.  Administration of the existing on premise IT infrastructure and requisitioned infrastructure in the cloud is made simpler with secure centralized provisioning.

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Value Added Resellers (VARs) will find that SyncBlaze is highly customizable, brand-able with multiple deployment options and they can confidently offer their customers a powerful content management platform that promotes their identity in the market.  The MSPs and VARs can help customers leverage cloud infrastructures available with third party IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) providers or adapt the solution to infrastructures available with the MSP keeping in mind the specific requirements of the individual customer–such as, level of control over data or visibility over users.

EDITIONS

SyncBlaze is available in two editions:

* Service Provider (SP) Edition – MSPs/VARs can host the solution in their own environment (datacenter/server) and offer it to their business customers

* Cloud Editon – They can also leverage the cloud infrastructure powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS).

SyncBlaze Service Provider Edition comes in two flavors—Server Build and Client Agent build whereas the SyncBlaze Cloud Edition requires only the client Agent build.


Fig. 1 – SyncBlaze SP Edition – Server System Requirements

SyncBlaze SP Edition server and client editions (for both editions) works well with Windows 7/Vista/XP/Windows Server 2008,2003,2000/Windows SBS 2003,2011, 2008/ Windows EBs 2008(64 bit), Red Hat Linux 8.0 and later/CentOS 4 and above/Fedora Core 3 and above/Debian Linux 5.0 and Ubuntu 7.10 and above.  The exe file that needs to be downloaded and installed on the server or the client is just 5.6 MB and 3.6 respectively for Windows and 38 KB and 2.9 MB for Linux server and client respectively. The mobile client supports Android 2.1 and above and iOS 4.0 and above and the exe file is 378 KB and 1.9 MB respectively.

Customer support is what distinguishes Vembu from the competition.  They ensure that customers are supported at multiple levels. User guides, support forums, blogs, FAQs, Live Chat and knowledge bases—these are just a few items in the long list of support services that are provided by the company. Customers who want to interact with the company are welcome to call up on their telephone lines or write in an email and the support service comes free with SyncBlaze. SyncBlaze also has plans to offer premium support plans with 24/7 email and phone support similar to their backup solution StoreGrid and the same will be made available soon to meet the needs of partners requiring dedicated support with SLA based resolution.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Multi source data and content organization, storage, synchronization, sharing and collaboration solution
  • Multi-platform accessibility for online or offline work from all types of computing devices—mobile or otherwise
  • Data security with flexibility, deep functionality and greater integration
  • Active Directory based LDAP integration
  • Centralization of content administration
  • Searchable collection of data with content indexing
  • Breadcrumbs based browsing for folder hierarchy
  • Access to bookmarked content and embedded multimedia from within the application interface
  • Intuitive Editor for creating illustrative notes and comments on documents
  • Role based management of content with granular configuration of permission for users or groups/domains
  • Facility for creation of multi tenant or dedicated storage architecture with centralized management by MSP or customer
  • Brand-able and customizable application interfaces for MSPs and VARs with a variety of deployment options

Cons

  • Linux version of SyncBlaze is not available. Only Windows and Mac versions are currently available
  • Currently, there is no facility to set user permissions at sub folder level
  • Synchronization of files and folders is automatic and user cannot select which files and folders to synchronize
  • No direct login API on the website
  • Licensing and billing is currently manual
  • Does not support server end clustering and replication
  • No bandwidth throttling available

Company Profile:

Name of Company: Vembu Technologies Pvt Limited

Chief Executive Officer (CEO): Sekar Vembu [http://www.linkedin.com/pub/sekar-vembu/1/6a1/a8b]

VP, Technology: Jayavasanthan Jay [http://www.linkedin.com/in/jayavasanthan]

VP, Engineering and Operations: Sathish Subramaniam [http://www.linkedin.com/pub/sathish-subramanian/4/7a4/621]

VP, Product Management, Cloud Data Protection: Srivatsan Venkatesan [http://www.linkedin.com/in/srivatsanv]

VP, Product Management, Cloud Content Management: Sai V. Nagarajan [http://www.linkedin.com/pub/sai-nagarajan/36/376/19]

Website: http://www.vembu.com, http://www.syncblaze.com

Blog: http://blog.vembu.com

Forum: http://StoreGrid.vembu.com/forum/

Founded in: July 2004

Type: Privately Held

Company Size: 200 employees (November 2012)

Nature of product: Online File Sharing and collaboration solution to Service Providers and Resellers.

Headquarters/ India Office: Vembu Technologies Pvt. Ltd. Office-A, II Floor, “Kaashyap Enclave” 13-A/209, Velachery Main Road, Velachery, Chennai – 600 042 [Google Map]

US Office: Vembu Technologies, Inc. 5500 Stewart Avenue, Suite 116, Fremont, CA 94538 [Google Map]

Competitors: Egnyte, Box, Dropbox, SugarSync, Syncplicity, GoodSync, Mozy (Stash), SOS, Owncloud, and more.

Tag at BackupReview.info: http://www.backupreview.info/tag/vembu/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/vembustoregrid

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/vembutech

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/syncblaze

Vembu Case Study at Amazon: http://aws.amazon.com/solutions/case-studies/vembu/

Market Focus: SyncBlaze provides Online File Sharing and Collaboration Solution to Managed Service Providers, IT Service Providers and Resellers.

Positioning: Vembu Technologies is one of the fastest growing companies offering affordable Backup and Cloud Storage Solutions.

Support and Contacts
Phone:
India: +91-44-4202 2671
US: +1-432-558-0055
UK: +44-020-3239-4360

Sales and Partner Relations:
Email: syncblaze-partner@vembu.com

Technical Support:
Email: syncblaze-support@vembu.com

Getting Started

Installing SyncBlaze

Users can download and try the trial version of SyncBlaze for thirty days before they decide to take the plunge and subscribe to the service. For Service Provider Edition, the server & client builds needs to be downloaded and installed.

To install SyncBlaze to their client machines (both editions), users will have to download a small .exe file from the website of the company. An installation wizard guides the user through the installation process which lasts only a few seconds. Thereafter, SyncBlaze appears in the right click submenu automatically. Users can right click on a folder or file and select “Add to SyncBlaze” if the file must be uploaded to SyncBlaze. The file is immediately added to the SyncBlaze folder under the location that was selected during the installation and will be uploaded the moment SyncBlaze begins syncing files. Other workstations installed with SyncBlaze will also receive a copy of the files that are deposited in the SyncBlaze folder.


Fig. 2 – Installation

SyncBlaze Interface

SyncBlaze has a trim and slim interface and access to the application is available via the web browser on the computing device and the mobile devices. The desktop agent has no separate GUI and works quietly in the background synchronizing files and folders from the SyncBlaze directory. The purpose of providing reduced interface was to focus user attention on content and make all types of content available to the user with an unprecedented immediacy.

On the web browser all content can be accessed by clicking on the menu button on the browser toolbar and action bar at the top of the screen. Users can navigate between files, notes, bookmarks and other content using this feature. A search text box has also been conveniently incorporated at the top to facilitate search for documents contained in the SyncBlaze account.


Fig. 3 – User Management

SyncBlaze offers a centralized administration module to both the Administrator and the Customer Administrators. As an initial step, Email Settings need to be configured to make sure the email notifications are received by the customers and users.


Fig. 4 – Email Settings in SyncBlaze

Once the email settings are configured successfully, the administrator can add their customers and the same can be viewed as a list. The administrator can view, edit, activate/deactivate, delete, restrict number of users and also allocate the required space as and when required.

Customer Administrator accounts can be activated or deactivated by the Administrator resulting in the activation or deactivation of all user accounts linked to the customer administrator account. Similarly customer administrators or group administrators can activate or deactivate a specific account under their control.

Customer Administrator accounts and user accounts can be deleted along with all information pertaining to users created under that account. Emails are automatically dispatched (without login information) when an administrator adds a customer / user / group to the account. The email invitation to join can be sent out several times if required.


Fig. 5 – Customer Management Console

On the other hand, the Customer Administrators can create, view, edit or delete users or user groups or Administrators from the account with an Admin login. Users can also be added in bulk by uploading a CSV file containing user information. The admin can integrate with their existing directory service and import all their users and groups into SyncBlaze using the Active Directory based LDAP feature. However, the administrator has no access to the information that may be stored by the users / groups of users on the system.

The user management Admin panel has options for displaying the list of users / groups / administrators (including super administrators) created by the administrator with the unique names of the users, space allocation particulars and the last login details of each user.


Fig. 6 – User Management Console

Once the customers/users are added, they will receive an email notification for verification. Once verified, they will have the option to set their own password for their account.

The amount of space allocated to the customer can be modified by the Administrator and in turn the customer admin can allocate to their customers. Administrators can request for additional space from SyncBlaze as and when the allotted space is consumed.

Content Management

Secure file sharing and collaboration is the raison d etre for SyncBlaze’s conception and deployment. Users enjoy a range of access capabilities with the product. Business files, web content, multimedia, Google application documents, emails and social media updates can be stored and retrieved from SyncBlaze repositories.

Content can be uploaded to SyncBlaze in two ways. Users can upload content using the Client Agent or directly using the web interface. While the former has no file size restrictions, in the latter the file size cannot be more than 300 MB. Bandwidth throttling feature is not available in SyncBlaze.

As stated earlier, for agent based upload SyncBlaze creates a special folder. This folder is used for synchronization of files on the workstation or computing device with the backup. Files can be added to this folder by right clicking on the file or folder and selecting “Add to SyncBlaze” from the submenu. This folder is then used to reconcile and synchronize files and folders with the online based account or with any device that can be directly accessed from the workstation or computing device. Synchronized files can be accessed directly from the computer’s hard drive thereafter by navigating to the My Documents folder on the drive or users can navigate to the SyncBlaze website and access the files and folders from the SyncBlaze account on the website.

All content uploaded to the SyncBlaze is automatically indexed and readied for e-discovery. The indexation simplifies rendition of content and makes the data repository searchable.

Files that are deleted will be listed when the ‘Show Deleted’ icon is clicked and can be undeleted and restored to original location until it is permanently deleted using the appropriate options.

Normally, only incremental changes to files and folders are uploaded into SyncBlaze. However, unlimited number of versions of a file or folder can be created and the same can be downloaded or restored as and when required.

File Sharing and Collaboration

SyncBlaze has a slick file sharing and collaboration feature. Users can easily and quickly share files using a secure unique link which can be emailed to other users or even shared via IM. Users can share a file link with even non-SyncBlaze users allowing them to share with both internal and external members.


Fig. 7 – File Sharing

On the folder level, users can collaborate on folders by assigning specific permissions to different users invited to collaborate on the file or folder. Users have the facility to edit these permissions at any time during the process of collaboration or delete this permission when they are no longer required. A single user or multiple users or a group can be invited to collaborate on a file or folder and teams can work on a single screen during the process. This is extremely useful when organizations need geographically scattered teams to work on a single file or folder for decision making purposes and for accelerating productivity across the enterprise.


Fig. 8 – Folder Collaboration

An interesting point that needs to be noted is that no separate storage space is allocated to the file that is being collaborated upon. The space allocated to the user inviting collaboration is consumed for the collaborative effort and the file version is saved as originating from the drive of such a user.

All the synced files and folders will be available under ‘My Files’ in the web interface. All files and folders that have been shared between users are listed in the “Shared” folder and can be identified specifically and reviewed periodically. Links that have been generated for file sharing purposes will be visible under “Links” and these links can be quickly copied for further shares.


Fig. 9 – File/Folder Listing

Users can even collaborate effectively using the file/folder commenting feature. The Comments options lets users write a comment on a file or folder. It can even be used to create a discussion or even comment on the review.

Unfortunately, SyncBlaze is yet to develop the capability of protecting file sharing with passwords. The company claims to be working on this aspect.

Bookmarks

Web pages and web content can be bookmarked and accessed at will from within the SyncBlaze agent interface. However, users must download and install the appropriate browser plugins and extensions for the browser they are using before they can view the bookmarked page on their browser. Adding a bookmarklet for SyncBlaze on the Browser is recommended as a best practice for this purpose.

Web sites of interest so bookmarked will be included in the SyncBlaze Personal digital library. The bookmarks will be visible when the user navigates to the My SyncBlaze using the Menu button that becomes visible on the browser toolbar.

A number of other options are available to users accessing the My SyncBlaze menu option on the Browser toolbar. Users can book mark a web page, add all tabs, share the webpage, import bookmarks on the current browser to SyncBlaze, navigate to the My Personal Digital Library or search content within the SyncBlaze account by adding tags.


Fig.10 – Bookmarks

Notes

Users can create fresh content as Notes within their SyncBlaze account. The content can be just text or images or a combination of texts and images. Users can create these notes even as they are browsing web pages by highlighting portions of the web page and adding it to the note. The added note can be viewed from within the SyncBlaze.  Notes can be formatted using a set of formatting tools and style settings that are available to SyncBlaze users.


Fig. 11 – Notes in SyncBlaze

Adding Content Source as Service

SyncBlaze interface provisions for a Service Wizard that can be accessed from the agent interface. The “Adding a content source” process can be initiated from “My Account’ tab. The Services Wizard displays a list of useful content sources which can be added to the personal information library of the user from a variety of sources such as an iPad, Delicious, desktop documents, Google docs, Google apps docs and Google calendar.  However, Google Docs, Google App Docs and Twitter will have to be specifically enabled and a one-time authorization process will have to be completed before the Wizard can display them.   When the source is selected a configuration page is displayed and users can choose to fetch the document by type or collection name by clicking the “Fetch Now” button. The “fetching” can be scheduled as an automatic process by checking the “fetch daily” checkbox.

RSS Feeds

RSS feeds can be configured with SyncBlaze to become accessible to users as a menu option under the right click submenu or as a bookmark. RSS feeds can be added to SyncBlaze by right clicking on the RSS feed icon and selecting “Add link to SyncBlaze” option. Alternately, the RSS feed URL can be added as a bookmark using the “Add Bookmark” option on the SyncBlaze landing page.  However, it should be noted that there is a limitation of ten to the number of feeds that can be added to the SyncBlaze. The feeds are fetched several times a day and feed information is displayed with title, description and published dates. Specific feeds can be saved as bookmarked content for future use.

Mobile Services

SyncBlaze offers a secure mobile access to all the files and folders. The product offers a native iOS app for iPhone/iPad users and an Android App for smartphones/tablet users. The mobile application allows the users to access their files at ease and share them with other people with just a tap.


Fig. 12 – Screenshots of iOS App


Fig. 13 – Screenshots of Android App

Other mobile users can take advantage of the rich HTML-5 based mobile website which is user friendly. Mobile users on the move can use the Mobile Web Platform for SyncBlaze to retrieve critical business content without installing any kind of custom software on their machines. This service works well with Android, iPhone, iPad, Kindle and Blackberry with equal ease.

Security

All content transmitted from client to server over the Internet using the https format. All files are compressed and encrypted automatically at source. The cryptographic algorithm used for encryption is Blowfish 448 bit encryption protocol. The data at rest in the server remains encrypted at all times and is automatically decrypted for authorized and authenticated users on login.  For more secure option, the files names are also stored in MD5 format.

SyncBlaze Cloud is powered by Amazon AWS and complies with most regulatory requirements such as HIPAA, SOX and PCI.

Customer Support

Support is an obsession with Vembu Technologies. They offer knowledge bases, forums, guides, video tutorials, live chat, telephone support, FAQs and several other kinds of support free of cost. For those who want to be handheld all the way, they have premium support plans that are available for a small fee. The company welcomes feedback from its users and takes the trouble to incorporate constructive suggestions into product development.

Pricing

SyncBlaze Server Provider (SP) Edition is only available through Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Value Added Resellers (VAR). The product is priced nominally and is absolutely affordable. With SyncBlaze SP Edition, the License known as MCAL has a monthly validity and any number of MCALs can be purchased and held by a user for account replenishment as required. The MCALs comes with a price as low as $2 per MCAL per month based on the upfront payment. The Cloud Edition comes with a unique pricing model of charging only for the storage being used irrespective of number of users and costs as low as $0.25 per GB per month based on the upfront payment.

Conclusion

SyncBlaze is one of the popular online file sharing and collaboration solutions in the market. It offers competition to established players like DropBox and can be rapidly installed and deployed. The content aggregation feature of the software is very attractive. But, users subscribe to this service largely for its sharing and collaboration features and its dynamic file synchronization capabilities. The administrator friendly centralized management leverages the best practices and the latest Active Directory based LDAP integration makes it more secure.

Unfortunately, a Linux version of the software is yet to be developed. Granular configuration of user permissions is still on the anvil. Web login features are expected with direct Login API. Licensing and billing are still manual. Bandwidth throttling has not yet been provided.

Despite all these shortcomings, SyncBlaze is definitely a robust, and well developed software for business users to share and collaborate on their content securely and deserves a four out of a possible five stars.

© December 2012 BackupReview.info

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