These are golden days for enterprise (and wanna be enterprise) IT vendors, especially for those that offer consumer-like experiences in the cloud.
You don’t have to look any further than the (now confirmed) $350 million Dropbox raised last month to prove it. That puts the file sync and share vendor’s valuation at over $10 billion. It’s a pretty hefty sum for any company, let alone one which may be giving many of its products/services away for free.
That being said, Dropbox is loved by the masses; last November it reported that it had 200 million registered users. It’s safe to assume that most of them registered as individuals versus as members of corporations.
What does Dropbox plan to do with its new investment? Among other things, it wants to make itself enterprise worthy. And at this point that may mean simply adding enough security features to keep CIOs from blocking workers from accessing it (which is now the case in most large enterprises).
Is this something Dropbox can achieve? Sure. It’s “when” that is in question.
Once that is done, Dropbox will have to chase other enterprise-grade cloud file sync and share leaders like Box, Microsoft and Syncplicity to add features that take it beyond “sync” (which is what it was originally designed for) that bring greater value to the Enterprise.
Is Box Going 'Big Data' to Raise its Valuation?
Earlier this month Quartz reported that, in order to avoid being “pegged as a one-trick pony” on the eve of its publicly announcing that it has filed for its IPO (according to Forbes this could happen before March), Box hired former Las Vegas Sands Corporation CIO, Manjit Singh, to lead the company’s charge into big data.
When we read the news, we said, huh?
While Singh is, no doubt, an impressive tech executive, he doesn’t have the big data creds of a Jeff Hammerbacher, DJ Patil or Hilary Mason; in fact, as far as we can tell, he doesn’t have any big data creds at all.
Now don’t get us wrong, when we used our headhunting skills to check out Singh, we found his track record in advocating and actually moving business applications to the cloud to be quite impressive. But cloud isn’t the same as big data.
The article went on to say that Box wanted to position itself, not just as a Dropbox rival, but also a “big-data cruncher for companies that can go toe-to-toe with data service giants like IBM and Salesforce.com.” (Quartz might as well have added Amazon AWS Kinesis, CSC’s Infochimps, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft HDInsight, Pivotal … (we could keep going) to the list, but, as some VCs will tell you, that field is a little crowded as it is.)
For the record, Box says it hired Singh to build out its industry consulting service.
Maybe Quartz meant to say that Box was going to build out and leverage Big Data analytics to help its clients learn more about how content stored in Box is being consumed; but this is pure speculation on our part. It could be that Box actually pictures itself on Wikibon’s big data leaders list in 2015.
It’s also worth noting that, earlier today, Box announced that it has brought Enrique Solomon, the former CEO of Symantec in as an advisor. No doubt this move is geared to show would-be investors that it’s serious about enterprise-grade security. We can’t help but wonder if Box was getting push-back from would-be customers on the issue because it has always touted security as one of its differentiating features.
As an aside, it’s worth noting that analysts predict that Box will come to its IPO with a $2 billion valuation, which makes positioning Dropbox versus Box a little confusing, given that Dropbox’s valuation is $10 billion.
While Box clearly has more enterprise features than Dropbox, it has fewer users.
Syncplicity Gets Smart with Analytics
Syncplicity has plenty of access to big data gurus: its parent, EMC, has been preaching cloud and big data since at least 2009. EMC spawn Pivotal has one of the most respected big data and data science teams on the planet. That being said, it’s doubtful that Syncplicity General Manager Jeetu Patel would argue that his cloud sync and share offering belongs in Wikibon’s big data leadership rankings or that it’s ready to stand alone and compete with IBM or Salesforce’s entire breadth of offerings.
Patel does however see Syncplicity leveraging big data technology -- in fact it’s already in the early stages of doing exactly that from an analytics perspective.
While most sync and share vendors focus on the sync feature, Syncplicity puts heavy weight on its share feature as well. Case in point? The redesign of its mobile face which started with the question “How can we help our users work smarter, more collaboratively and faster?”
Enabling easy access to files and folders you’ve recently worked with was one answer, alerting you as to what documents you need to look at and when is another. Being informed of the status (opened or not) of a file shared is yet another. And the value of sharing more of the right content with the people who find it useful cannot be overstated. Millions, and even billions, of hours are being wasted as workers search for and recreate content that already exists and should be easily accessible by authorized employees.
“Most of the content that is being created is seen by far fewer individuals than anticipated,” says Patel. And he has a point. Share a photo on Instagram and you’ll get dozens of “likes” in no time. Share a document at your company, which could have thousands or even 100,000 employees and you’ll be lucky if you get a handful -- and it won’t be because they don’t like your content, it will be because the people to whom your content could be relevant either won’t know that it exists or how to find it.
If we can increase consumption in the enterprise, (similarly to the way Instagram does for the consumer), it’s game changing, says Patel.
A Rising Tide Raises All Ships?
As interesting as it may be to compare Dropbox, Box, Syncplicity, Microsoft OneDrive and others, for now, all the buzz around cloud file sharing could be good for everyone; after all, a rising tide raises all ships. And given that, according to some estimates, as many as 90 percent of enterprises don’t yet have a cloud based sync and share solution in place, there’s a lot of business yet to be done.
Finally, it’s worth noting that according to a recent report by the Enterprise Strategy Group and Workshare, there’s an increased interest in a hybrid file-sharing approach. My colleague David Roe wrote about it last week. Since neither Dropbox nor Box taunt that capability, maybe their next hires will be in that area.
What cloud-based file sync and share solution does your company use?