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Server and application virtualization juggernaut Citrix Systems has bought ShareFile, which runs a cloudy document sharing service aimed at businesses, not at consumers.

ShareFile was founded in Raleigh, North Carolina, in November 2005 and has grown organically and without any venture funding since that time. The company was founded by Jesse Lipson, a self-taught programmer, and this is his third company since graduating from Duke University with a philosophy degree. Peter Hebert, VP of technology, and Nate Spilker, VP of operations, also both hail from Duke and have tech backgrounds.

ShareFile currently has 100 employees and 17,000 corporate customers who use its document sharing and collaboration service, which was created by Lipson because he was annoyed that FTP was "clunky and amateurish", as he put it in a conference call with journalists and analysts announcing the Citrix acquisition. The ShareFile service currently has 3 million users trading files in more than 100 countries.

The idea behind the service is simple: make it easy to access corporate files that companies are nervous about sharing over email. The company's service allows for files as large as 10GB to be uploaded to ShareFile's data centers and the company has created native clients to access the service that work with iPhones and iPads, Android phones and tablets, Windows phones and desktops, and Mac desktops - unlike many FTP and other file sharing services.

Perhaps most importantly for Citrix, ShareFile has never offered a freebie version of its file sharing service to help market itself and has always insisted that its clients, which are easy to use, are worth paying for. A basic plan with 5GB of space and bandwidth for two end users costs $30 per month, a professional account with ten users and 10GB of storage and bandwidth costs $60 per month, and an enterprise contract with 20 employees and 20GB of capacity costs $100 per month. As you go up in capacity, you get extra features. The professional account has an Outlook plug-in as well as file encryption and automatic synchronization with your desktop/device. The enterprise level adds drive mapping and enterprise-grade synchronising that works across multiple users. The full-on enterprise gold license costs $500 per month and adds SAML authentication and integration with Windows Server's Active Directory authentication services.

One of the secrets of the ShareFile service is that it has over 100 customizable features, which allows end users to customize it for specific users and industries.

Citrix did not announce the financial details of the acquisition, but Wes Wasson, chief marketing officer at Citrix, said that Lipson will now be vice-president and general manager of the new Data Sharing Group at Citrix. So presumably the ShareFile service will not be rebranded GoToData or GoToFiles and thrown into the other GoTo family of services.

"As we move from the PC era that we have been in for the past 15 years, people need access to apps, desktops, and data from any device, anytime, anywhere," Wasson said in the call, declining to elaborate further on how Citrix would integrate ShareFile into its services. The integration plans will apparently be detailed at the Synergy conference hosted by the company in Barcelona, Spain, at the end of this month. This strategy will apparently be called "follow-me data" to coincide with "follow-me apps" and "follow-me desktops".

This strategy will no doubt be very popular with Popeye and our cockney brethren and sorors. ®

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