Many security professionals appreciate the utility of collaborative workspace features they see in many of the free, online, cloud-based applications out there, but loathe the idea of entrusting the security of their corporate data to another company's cloud, no matter how sterling that company's reputation. That is why we love to see products like Acronis activEcho, which provide those document-sharing features, but host everything within one's own private network.
The product was provided to us as an .exe installer, which, when ran, installed the required PostgreSQL database server and the product itself. It also checked for the existence of Java, which was required as well. To make use of the mobile client, we installed the separate mobile management server and specified the network port on which to run it. We were given a choice between installing the mobile management server on the same server as the primary application, or installing it separately. To keep things compact, we installed everything on the same server. However, it was pleasing to have the option of segregating the two services. The tool does make use of the Java Cryptography Extensions, which we had to download from the product website and copy into the Java directory. Acronis is quick to certify new versions of Java for use with its product. But, administrators should be aware that there may be a lag of a day or two while that certification process is processing.
Functioning as a collaborative workspace and document-sharing environment - similar to products like Dropbox - Acronis activEcho supports a wide variety of platforms, including Windows, Mac and Linux PCs, as well as iOS and Android phones through respective mobile apps. The product supports internal users, but is highly Active Directory integrated, so file-sharing permissions, disk quotas and other features can all be controlled by group membership. There doesn't appear to be any remote-provisioning features, so IT intervention may be required when setting up the mobile client if users aren't comfortable inputting their own server, port and login information. Once it's set up, though, the product functions quite simply. Documents uploaded to a share will appear in the end-user's mobile application and can be viewed, modified and saved. All data is encrypted in motion and at rest with either AES-128 or AES-256, depending on the choice of the administrator. Full monitoring and audit trail features are in place, permitting administrators to track precisely who has viewed or modified what data, and when.
The product documentation for activEcho is thorough. Despite the complicated setup, the installation guide provided easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions on each task required to get the services up and running.
Acronis offers generous support for this tool, albeit there is only one support level, which provides 24/7 phone, email and web-based assistance. Additionally, the company maintains an online knowledge base and FAQ list.
Acronis activEcho has a variable pricing model - which is based on the quantity of licenses purchased. For 500 users, the cost would be $55 per user. Licenses are offered in perpetual and subscription-based pricing models. One year of support is included, with one-year extensions available.