Who will win the enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) game? It’s certainly not going to be the vendor who offers the most amount of free storage.
Just today, Microsoft took storage caps off the table for Office 365 Home, Personal and University customers. And that unlimited OneDrive storage will be listed on the Office 365 for Business roadmap in the next few days. (They can’t offer unlimited storage right away because they have promised to give their corporate clients a heads-up before making any policy changes.)
What Does the Competition Offer?
Google Drive for Work and Dropbox for Business offer their business customers unlimited storage as well. Dropbox requires five paid employees.
Box took its storage limits for most business customers off of the table last July, but there remain constraints on its Workspace plan.
Gartner leader EMC Syncplicity offers unlimited storage for Enterprise customers but does limit the content that business and department users can keep in the cloud without incurring extra charges. Ditto for other Gartner leaders like Citrix ShareFile and Accellion kiteworks.
While the EFSS leaders mentioned offer and charge for services around file storage, Microsoft offers something they don’t — Microsoft Office 365 productivity tools which nearly everyone wants access to, and is willing to pay for (or already paying for), anyways.
Microsoft may have another edge too. CEO Satya Nadella is betting that you’ll want to do everything on its cloud and use mobile apps that leverage its services. If he’s right and he succeeds, Microsoft via its mobile-first, cloud-first strategy will be the default place you go to for creating, storing and working with the digital information, assets and content of your life.
To help make that happen, he’s making it free.
Hard on Competitors
And not just that, but, unlike most of its competitors in this space, Microsoft can afford to sacrifice and even lose a few bucks while it convinces you to jump onto its Cloud. After all, it’s not your file storage business it’s after; instead it wants you to pay for its productivity tools and make it as easy as possible for you to live and work on its platform.
What does this mean for OneDrive for Business competitors?
It’s time to bring your best game to the table, while you still can, because customers will have to have a pretty compelling reason to leave Microsoft’s cloud once they are there.
Why do we say so? Because if Microsoft executes on its plan, it will be the platform on which you live your life, even as you move from dropping your kids off at school, to meeting a client for breakfast to reviewing an Excel spreadsheet with your boss to bringing your concerns up at the parent teacher conference you’ve got scheduled for late afternoon.
Everything that you need will always be at your fingertips on OneDrive or OneDrive for Business. You’ll be able to access it all from the cloud and view it on a big screen, a tablet, a phone and, yes, maybe even a watch.
Microsoft will be the one place where you create, store and share the files of your life. No other vendor, except maybe Google, can offer that at the moment. (Amazon may try to next month.)
What Does the Competition Think?
We’re still waiting for reactions from most, but Egnyte CEO, Vineet Jain, has already reported in. "While this (Microsoft’s unlimited storage announcement) may seem like a headline, it is really just another stab at gaining new customers,” he said, insisting that his own team is well of the game. He continued:
For quite a while now we have accepted the fact that storage has become table stakes, and there is no real money to be made there. The future for files is having an ecosystem for them to live in, not just sit in. If we are going to gain the true value that lies within our files we need to be able to go mobile with them, share and collaborate with them, and most of all, analyze their activity. The real story here is not about unlimited storage; it is about the end of storage monetization and a pivot towards a new definition of a dead market."