If anyone doubted that there was money in the cloud, then the end-of-year wrap from Box might dispel it. According to CEO Aaron Levie, over the last year alone, its revenues doubled, staff numbers has more than doubled, and it has doubled its customer base to more than 8 million users.

Just a small caveat here: These are all figures and claims made by the company itself so there is no independent verification. However, there is no reason to doubt them as the growth in the use of cloud applications has been well documented over the course of 2011.

Box and the Cloud

Leaving aside the figures themselves, there are a few interesting insights that demonstrate where businesses are using the cloud at the moment and where this is likely to go over the course of the year.

The first, and most important thing from an enterprise CMS perspective, is that businesses appear to be abandoning their traditional enterprise CMS providers.

According to Aaron Levie, co-founder and CEO of Box, organizations are embracing the cloud from top down and bottom up and that the CIOs of some of the world's largest companies are bypassing their normal vendors in favor of smaller, cloud startups that are more agile.

We already saw  how agility will be one of the key demands enterprises will be making from their deployments. In the past, agility may have been a theoretical possibility, but with the cloud it is a reality and shows in the revenues posted by Box.

In the case of Box, some of the customer wins include AAA, Dow Chemical, McAfee and Procter & Gamble, and while we don’t normally focus on customer wins, in this case we can see how deeply into even the Fortune 500 market that cloud use has permeated.

CIOs of the world's largest companies are bypassing their traditional vendors in favor of enterprise cloud start-ups that are better positioned to meet the demands of today's and tomorrow's workers. This shift will transform the enterprise software landscape, establishing a new set of technology leaders and an entirely new way of working that's more flexible, mobile and social than ever before,” Levie said.

And anecdotal evidence suggests that this is not just fightin’ talk

Neither is cloud uptake limited to a single vertical. Again, Levie says that Box has made considerable inroads into a whole bunch of verticals.

The traction, he says, has been enormous with a 370% increase in the number of retail customers, a 265% increase in the financial sector and a 200% increase in healthcare customers by the close of 2011.

Box in Business

But in fairness, and credit where credit is due, the success of Box this year isn’t just based around cloud uptake; Box has also been responsive to market needs and demands and has produced products to match.

Over the course of 2011, for example, it unveiled a new version of its cloud service, offered cross-platform sync to business customers and added security enhancements to the cloud -- all things that have been identified in one survey or another as being crucial to cloud adoption.

It also pushed the boat out on the mobile front with mobile implementations up by 140% per month – again, these are Box’s figures -- and new mobile users growing by 174% every quarter.

All this backed by US$ 129 million in funding in 2011 to fuel its enterprise expansion, as well as 215 new employees, bringing total headcount to 340. A good year for any company in current economic times,  but for Box, which was only founded in 2005, you’d have to call it a very good year.