Novell's new Filr software offers secure alternative to Dropbox

On-premise file access

Novell is preparing to release Filr, a new on-premise file sharing product for organisations that want some of the convenience of a Dropbox-like approach while keeping data management under internal control.

A key attraction of Filr's design is that it can sits on top of existing file stores managed through Active Directory policies, which means that employees access it from multiple devices as they would their home file directory.

Filr can be deployed as a VMware appliance (other hypervisors are also possible though not yet accredited), supporting both Windows and Novell's Open Enterprise servers, with client access from Windows XP/7/8, Mac OS X, Android, iOS and the new BlackBerry 10.

Admins can define whether files are downloaded or simply viewed - this might depend on whether encryption is supported on the accessing device - but sharing to third parties is possible. Full text search is offered using MySQL and Lucerne.

According to Novell, admins get full visibility of who is accessing files according to existing security policies, avoiding the sort of regulatory issues that can crop up with Dropbox-style systems.

"There are companies that can't make use of a cloud service," agrees Novell senior product manager, Richard Lindstedt. "With Filr you really have nothing to do in terms of file access rights," he said.

"The customer references so far are not only in highly regulated markets," observed Lindstedt, who believed that there was untapped demand for a system that simply slotted into an existing file storage setup.

After a beta pilot that saw the software used in 500 customers who trialled Filr as part of their existing Novell installation, the new software will reach general availability on 30 April.

Pricing depends on the maintenance agreement, with 50-user packs starting at around $18 per seat.

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