Box announced today the addition of a number of new capabilities to its cloud storage platform, including enhanced admin features and a new service, Box Consulting, to help deploy and scale the Box platform. It also introduced new partnerships with Capgemini and other unnamed systems integrators.
While the admins features will add a new level of security to the platform, the Box Consulting services will make it easier for enterprises to deploy Box in conjunction with their existing infrastructure.
It has also rebuilt its desktop sync application, Box Sync, from the ground up, which will be sold as Version 4. Box describes this as a core part of Box, enabling Windows and Mac OS X users to keep their files securely in the cloud, while offering access to them from any device or desktop.
Enterprises and Cloud Computing
In all, today’s announcements are just the latest in a number of significant announcements over the year that are all pushing Box towards an IPO. The exact date of this have yet to be announced, even if it is widely expected to happen sometime in the first half of next year.
At a product level, this has manifested itself in the development and release of a wide array of enhancements all designed to make the Box platform more accessible and agile.
In a blog post today announcing the new features, Box Senior Vice President Global Marketing and General Manager Enterprise Whitney Bouck wrote that the new upgrades are a response to the growing development of the cloud as a business driver in the enterprise.
This means that instead of enterprises switching to cloud computing, or SaaS, for convenience or economic reasons, businesses now look at cloud computing as a core part of their make-up and are adopting business to work around this.
It all began simply: the adoption of departmental SaaS services for sales, marketing and HR. These apps were disruptors: less feature-rich than their on-premise counterparts, but offered immediate savings and efficiency. These first forays into cloud adoption proved out the anticipated benefits: ease of use, ease of adoption and cost efficiencies,” Bouck wrote.
Cloud platforms are now becoming a critical part of the enterprise landscape, with many enterprises recognizing that cloud offerings offer more agility, if not more functionally, than on-premises versions.
Cloud platforms are the secret to unlocking the full potential of the enterprise. For CIOs, it’s no longer a question of 'if' to go cloud, but 'Who should I choose?'” she wrote.
This shift in computing has been borne out on a number of occasions by independent research, the most recent of which is today’s Gartner report on the enterprise software market and the drivers for next year. In that research, Gartner analyst Tom Eid identified cloud computing, mobile, data management apps and social apps as being the main drivers for enterprises next year.
Bouck cited this cloud momentum as the rational for the enhancements released today. Combined, the releases tackle a number of issues that still cause enterprises some concern in relation to cloud computing. One of those major concerns is around content access and security. With this in mind, Box has introduced:
- A new policies tool that gives users the ability to protect against the upload or sharing of confidential data
- A new automation tab that lets administrators create flows for managing common tasks
- A new content manager, for admins to centrally manage all the content in the enterprise
Box Policy Control console
Box also announced a consultancy service that aims to help enterprises adapt Box to existing architecture and to scale it according to enterprise needs.
In this respect, Box cites the example of an enterprise that has tens of thousands of workers looking for Box accounts. Without considerable management and help, enterprises are not going to bring in new cloud offerings that have the potential to disrupt existing deployments.
The new consulting wing has been set up to deal with this, and to ensure that if there is any possibility of selling Box to a large enterprise, there is a service that can iron out any possible technical problems.
To finish out the trio of news items, Box announced a new partnership with Capgemini under the Box Services Partner Program. Capgemini, a systems integrator, will bring custom app integrations and complex architecture implementations into the enterprise mix.
This latest news follows the announcement last week that Box secured $100 million in funding, which it plans to use to expand its reach outside the U.S.
The funding round came from corporations in Japan, Australia and Brazil, and reflects Box ambitions to expand into these markets over the course of 2014.
However, it is not the only company that is expanding aggressively with Dropbox pushing further and further into the business market, closing in on Box as it grows. According to reports, Dropbox is also hoping to raise new funding, but there has been no definite news as of yet.