Aprigo, Incubated by Cedar Fund, Leads Charge in Data Security and Storage for Google Docs

With more companies putting more of their data and services in the Internet cloud, someone has to help them manage all those bits in an efficient and controllable way. Now a Waltham, MA, startup called Aprigo is trying to position itself as the leader when it comes to important challenges in data security and storage.

The main problem Aprigo is solving has to do with keeping track of who has access to which shared documents, and for how long. That might sound simple, but when companies change partners or end contracts with vendors, IT managers can end up pulling their hair out trying to keep track of file permissions in the cloud. The point is to keep sensitive things like source code, customer data, financial records, and trade secrets out of the wrong hands.

Aprigo is announcing today that its “Ninja” software for managing Google Docs is widely available in the Google Apps Marketplace. The software is targeted at businesses, and it’s all part of the company’s broader efforts to make data storage and management more secure and cost-efficient, for both on-site and online applications (Google Docs would be the latter). The technology includes a data visualization interface, whereby an IT administrator can see graphically which data is exposed to whom, how important the information is, how old it is, and so forth.

Did I mention the online data management sector has been heating up? Just yesterday, we reported on Cambridge, MA-based Backupify and its recent efforts to help companies back up and manage their Google Apps data. It’s clear Google is putting an emphasis on building up its business-software ecosystem, and startups are more than happy to compete for a piece of the action.

Aprigo started in 2008 as an incubation project out of Cedar Fund, a venture capital firm that has offices in Israel and Waltham, MA. Gil Zimmermann, the co-founder and CEO of Aprigo, says he and his two co-founders got “pre-seed” money from Cedar Fund to investigate a bunch of different ideas. After a few months of market validation and feedback from companies, they decided to focus on the “data pain” of small and medium-size businesses, he says. Cedar then led a $3 million Series A round in Aprigo in March 2008.

Zimmermann knows the IT and data management sector well. He started his career as a software administrator and is a veteran of Hopkinton, MA-based EMC. As he explains, Aprigo sits in the sweet spot between “overkill” products from big companies like Symantec and EMC, which are expensive and focus on large corporate customers, and “underkill” products from existing startups and smaller niche players, which only target pieces of the data security and storage problem.

Aprigo has 15 employees and just started selling its software in the past quarter in a monthly subscription model. It uses a combination of direct sales and “channel partners” who sell IT services to administrators. The company’s customers—Zimmermann says about 1,000 businesses have used its software in some form—cut across a wide range of industries including education, manufacturing, retail, finance, insurance, and high-tech.

In a crowded and competitive market, a major challenge is just establishing the brand and product. “The big thing for us is execution and pushing it out, making it easier for customers to find us,” Zimmermann says. It’s safe to say that being available in the Google marketplace should provide an uptick in sales. But Zimmermann has no doubt the demand is there.

“People care about their data,” he says.

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