Salesforce announced a file sync and share service just before its Dreamforce 2012 conference called Chatterbox, but it's now been renamed Files, and it won't be the Dropbox for the enterprise Marc Benioff once boasted of.
Chatter Files + Chatterbox = Salesforce Files
Chatterbox was originally billed by Salesforce as a one stop shop for enterprise file syncing and sharing, like Box or Dropbox. That way, whatever files, videos, images or documents teams might need could be readily found in one place. All too often, files are spread out across devices and cloud repositories, so that when people go to find them, they end up wasting time just searching.
Where Chatterbox was meant to be an add on to Chatter, the Salesforce social network, Files will be available from inside other Salesfore applications. Customers also won't need to have Chatter for it to work, and it will be compatible with both on premise and cloud based repositories.
That means it will be able to access tools like Google Drive, Box and Microsoft SharePoint. Files gathered and shared with Saleforce Files are available to coworkers, partners and customers who can go in and grab the same item. Naturally, features go beyond just sharing, and they include version control, making comments on files, and multiple files uploaded at the same time.
Chatterbox, and a previous Salesforce attempt at file sharing called Chatter Files, were both meant to be repositories themselves. Salesforce Files is different because it simply connects to third party systems.
File Share + Sync is Having its Moment
File sharing and syncing is about a US$ 500 million industry, a recent 451 Research report conservatively estimated. Furthermore, it's shown strong growth over the last three years, and Box has in that time become one of the darlings of the enterprise. It's no wonder that companies like Salesforce had been trying to emulate Box, and now Forrester has even placed Box atop its latest File Sync and Share Wave.
Salesforce Files won't be available until 2014, but is said to be in private beta now. When Dreamforce 2013 rolls around in November, perhaps the company will give us a bit more insight into where it plans to take this.