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All things IT have a funny knack of coming back to the channel. Take file sharing and synchronization, which arguably is the cloud app that end users wind up buying directly more than any other.

Whether it’s from Dropbox, Box or any one of a dozen other services, many users now find themselves employing multiple file transfer and synchronization applications in the course of their working day.

Now, companies such as Dropbox are approaching the channel to extend that reach into the workflow of the average business. Dropbox, for example, recently expanded the channel program for Dropbox for business to a variety of international markets.

The number of partners participating in the Dropbox channel program is now up to 750, with another 100,000 developers building applications on top of the Dropbox API, said Adam Nelson, head of channel sales and partnerships at Dropbox. In effect, file transfer and synchronization, especially when it comes to mobile computing devices, have become fundamental workflow elements within a broad range of business processes, he added.

But while Dropbox and Box still dominate the category, traditional enterprise IT vendors are now pursuing the same opportunity. EMC, for example, acquired Syncplicity, a provider of file transfer and synchronization software that can be invoked as a service or deployed on a private cloud.

Rather than forcing customers to only store and transfer files in a public cloud, EMC is trying to give them the ability to deliver file transfer and synchronization capabilities to their end users as they see fit, EMC Syncplicity General Manager Jeetu Patel said. In fact, Syncplicity is designed to make where the files reside transparent to the end user. The IT organization can then apply data governance policies to their data as they best see fit.

The challenge that EMC is trying to rise to is the need to provider a better user experience than rivals that pushes end users back to using applications managed by the internal IT organization. From a solution provider perspective, the added benefit is that, over time, file synchronization software usually leads to an upgrade of the storage systems where the files ultimately reside. For that reason, EMC Syncplicity is being sold through a wide variety of EMC channel partners, Patel said.

The irony in all this is that the purveyors of file transfer and synchronization services in the cloud are now courting the channel to take their businesses to the next level. So, no matter how often some folks like to talk about the disintermediation of the channel in the age of the cloud, things almost inevitably always wind up leading right back to the channel.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.