Virtualisation provider AppSense is making its first move into cloud-based data storage with the launch of a new product called DataLocker, which enables users to encrypt sensitive information in their Dropbox account.
Consumer file-sharing and synchronisation apps like Dropbox have become popular with business users, because they make it easy to sync files between computers, tablets and smartphones. However, many of these apps lack the security, centralised administration and management of enterprise solutions, causing headaches for IT departments.
DataLocker allows Dropbox users to encrypt their data, meaning that they can carry on using the service they know while still adhering to compliance regulations. The DataLocker suite, available via a free download, includes native clients for Windows, Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
When users login to their Dropbox account via a DataLocker client, they can encrypt files depending on the level of security required. For example, a user could upload an encrypted file from a desktop PC and browse that directory securely from their Datalocker app on a tablet while they are out on the road.
The user can then decrypt a file if they want to show it to a customer, or send an external a link, along with a password by SMS, so that an external person can access the files themselves in a secure fashion.
"This is definitely a new direction in terms of what our enterprise customers have seen, but data is an important part of user virtualisation," said Keith Turnbull, vice president of global development at AppSense.
"You've virtualised the OS, you've virtualised your apps, now you can virutalise the user context - and of course data is one of the most important aspects of being able to virtualise user context, because that's the single most important thing a user does."
AppSense plans to extend the DataLocker application to provide encryption and decryption to any cloud storage product. Turnbull said it is a very generic and useful tool for anyone.
"A lot of companies are moving towards a true enterprise data solution that's got full policy and full governance, but in the interim, something like this is a fantastic place to get the puck on the ice from a data compliance point of view."
DataLocker is the first product to come out of AppSense Labs, the new research arm of the AppSense global research and development group. The focus of AppSense Labs will be on helping people harness emerging cloud, tablet, and mobile technologies alongside traditional PCs and enterprise IT infrastructure, the company said.
While these innovations may find their way into future IT-focused AppSense products, AppSense Labs will also freely experiment in new technology areas and make its innovations available directly to technology enthusiasts.
"We're taking our various development talents across the West Coast and in the UK, and effectively allowing them freedom to innovate, rather than throttling everything through a normal go to market process," said Turnbull. "Anything that helps blur the line between personal and business IT is a sweet spot."
The DataLocker launch comes at a time when a number of IT companies are making new inroads into cloud-based storage. For example, Apple recently launched iCloud, offering a central online repository for mail, contacts, calendars, music, TV, app and book purchases, photos, documents and backup, and Google is rumoured to be on the verge of launching its own cloud-based storage product called Drive.