Every Enterprise File Sync and Share vendor that is trying to be Dropbox for Business can now take a seat because the actual Dropbox for Business has you beat.
With more than 300 million individual users, Dropbox has become pervasive in our lives, and we’re no more likely to refrain from using it on the job than we are to leave our mobile devices at home when we go to work.
We’d like to do this with our employer’s blessing, of course, and come tomorrow we’ll be one step closer to being able to do so. That’s because Dropbox is opening its API to developers to create enterprise applications and apps on top of the Dropbox for Business platform.
With over 100,000 paid businesses already using Dropbox for Business (DfB) this will, no doubt, fly with the developer community. In fact, 20 prominent vendors such as Microsoft, Salesforce, Asana, Okta, onelogin, Dell and Splunk, among others, have already built solutions via an early access program that do things like fill the gap between what DfB offers and what the most paranoid IT directors and most demanding business users require.
Take, for example, an enterprise that may have been hesitant about adopting Dropbox for Business because of security concerns. With Splunk on its DfB platform, a big part of the worry is gone because IT now has visibility about who’s logging in from where. (So say someone from Nepal is trying to access Company X’s files, and Company X doesn’t have an office there, IT can be alerted). Splunk also provides audit logs that can tell IT who’s logging in from where, who’s downloading what and what they’re doing with it.
Another vendor, CloudLock, has built an app on the Dropbox for Business platform that inspects the content in every file to make sure it adheres to policies and regulations. If, for example, a document contains a Social Security number, CloudLock will ask whether a party attempting to access a document should be able to see it and take appropriate action.
And SkySync on the DfB platform can help customers who need hybrid solutions, by not only making it easy for IT to provide every customer who has a local file share to automatically get a DfB dropbox, but to also control what files can be accessed in the cloud and which cannot.
Set the Developers Loose
The aforementioned is just a hint of what IT managers who are concerned about how Dropbox for Business will work in complex environments with sensitive data that require legal oversight, custom workflows and in-depth reporting can look forward to.
Not only that, but Ilya Fushman, head of product for Dropbox for Business, says that developers can -- and in fact, some already have -- build solutions that help business process owners and information workers get more out of both DfB and the business applications that they already use or plan to buy. And to do so more easily.
That's right, enterprises using the DfB platform will be able to give end users exactly what they want because they’ll have so many options to choose from. (Considering that Dropbox has over 300,000 apps, it’s safe to assume that DfB won’t have much trouble attracting developers).
Part of a Trend
And while Dropbox for Business’s Open API is the big news this week, there’s one other thing that’s worth making note of. Now that DfB and its developer partners and customers will fill the gaps between what the platform has to offer and what businesses want and need, there’s the end user experience to consider.
Late last year Dropbox rebuilt Dropbox from the ground up to make it easy for end users to access both Dropbox and DfB from the same app. The ability to do this is becoming a trend (can you say “single pane of glass”?) and vendors, even as big as Microsoft, are answering the call.
The Files of Our Lives
The citizens of the cloudy, mobile may very well demand that the files of their lives live in one place (or at least appear to do so), and IT, if it wants to remain relevant, needs to help make that happen. (Because if they don’t, it will likely happen anyways.)
Dropbox, Dropbox for Business and its developer partners are in a unique position to create that reality.
So, instead of fruitlessly trying to lock Dropbox out of the Enterprise, it may be prime time for IT to embrace it and ask for help.