It’s been a busy couple of weeks for major players in the increasingly colliding enterprise content management (ECM) and enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) markets. Hot on the heels of the IBM-Box partnership, announced on June 24, 2015, today we see Syncplicity spin-out of EMC. Skyview Capital LLC, a global private investment firm, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Syncplicity, although EMC will retain a financial interest in it.

News of a divestiture by EMC does not come as a shock, given persistent investor interest in unlocking shareholder value, but news of Syncplicity being the target line of business was a bit of a surprise. Syncplicity is a solid stand-alone EFSS offering, inching over the leader line in the last Forrester WaveTM for EFSS, and it serves as a mobile-friendly, modern collaborative interface to EMC’s ECM offering, Documentum.

With its acquisition of Syncplicity in 2012, EMC was among the first of the major ECM players to incorporate secure sync and share. Since then, we’ve seen other major players build and buy their way into the sync and share space, often as an integrated offering to their core content management repository. Sync and share capabilities have become table stakes for ECM vendors that want to be go-to platforms, particularly for managing the collaborative, business documents that are the bread and butter of knowledge-based businesses. Syncplicity’s flexibility — to run in cloud or on-premises — made it attractive to enterprises living in a world of hybrid content stores.

What does this mean for EMC, Syncplicity, and their clients and partners?

For Syncplicity: It means more independence to set its own road map priorities and court new partners without fear of competing with other EMC product families. Standalone file sync and share, however, is an increasingly crowded market, and the top players have a strong underpinning of repository services. As EFSS matures, we’re seeing the innovators embed more “ECMish” capabilities, either with their own repositories or by building out policy layers across multiple repositories (including file shares) for security, retention, and other life-cycle management capabilities. An independent Syncplicity will need to enhance its offering here, and the window of opportunity to partner with other ECM vendors seems past.

For EMC: It allows the vendor to continue down its path of focusing on core infrastructure business. Documentum clients who have invested in Syncplicity may feel most at risk. Syncplicity has been marketed as a key option to accelerate Documentum’s move into mobile access to ECM as well as use a simpler, cleaner user interface to engage in basic content tasks. EMC will continue to sell Syncplicity, so the short-term implications may be business as usual, but longer term, it will have less influence on Syncplicity's road map and integration priorities. Syncplicity will likely continue to be part of EMC’s next-generation content platform, code-named Project Horizon, as a partner-provided “tile” or mini-application in Horizon’s emerging market place.

Forrester clients are invited to set up an inquiry with either myself or my colleague Craig Le Clair. Request an inquiry here.

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