Don't sync: centralize

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IDENTITY | POLICY

Our last two posts have focused on the business use case for Authentic8. Namely the ability for organizations to secure and control access to web apps by delivering them via a sandboxed and policy-wrapped browser in the cloud. But the end-user experience is another piece of the story that we haven’t talked about much. The more I use the service, the more I appreciate the convenience of having a truly portable web experience, and our early beta users realize this, too.

Every time I connect, Authentic8 builds a fresh browser in the cloud, but it’s wrapped with my specific profile and preferences. That means wherever I go and whichever computer I’m using, I get my browser -- account shortcuts with associated logins, bookmarked sites, pinned tabs, relevant cookies, certificates and (in the future) verified plugins for popular tools. What’s more, I can even restore the tabs I had open during my previous session with a single click. It’s like freezing the state of the browser on one computer and seamlessly transferring it to another. I spend the day at work on my laptop. Quit my browser. Go home. And pick up exactly where I left off from my home desktop.

As an end-user, it’s the ultimate liberation from having to carry information with me as I roam between the office, home and elsewhere. But there’s another important aspect of the Authentic8 approach that sets it apart.

Local browsers have sync capabilities for browser-related information. Both Chrome and Firefox let you define a set of web data (e.g. history, bookmarks, preferences, themes, plugins, and logins) and sync them between every computer that you use. Sounds good in terms of portability, right? You open the local browser on the visiting computer, log into the browser, and all your data gets downloaded and installed on that machine. Hmmm…wait, that’s not so cool. The idea that my browsing experience and my data can only be portable when some service duplicates that data on every device is a very scary prospect. Even if data is encrypted in transit and on the local computer, we know it’s simply a case of forgetting to logout or having your username/password compromised and all your data is exposed. In fact, Chrome offers this warning to users:

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These browsers allow you to choose which types of data you’d like synched. But it’s the information that you need most that you’re least likely to want to distribute -- namely, login information. Frankly, I don’t want this information (even encrypted) sitting on any machine. And having to “delete the user you have signed in as” to erase the local copy is portability at a price I’m unwilling to pay.

With Authentic8, all your information is centralized within the browser in the cloud, so we don't leave a trace on the machine you're using. We think that's a powerful concept, and our early users are confirming our gut. It will get even more compelling when you'll be able to access Authentic8 from any device including iPads and other tablets (stay tuned).

It’s the liberation of the web experience without the risk of local syncing. We think that’s a big step forward. What about you?

Ramesh Rajagopal - Ramesh is Co-Founder and President of Authentic8. Before, he was VP Corporate Development at Postini, heading up strategic planning and business development until its acquisition by Google in 2007.

Topics: Identity, Policy