Salesforce Connects to SharePoint with Universal File Sharing

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After more than a year in development — and the inking of a strategic partnership between two companies that never had a lot of nice things to say to each other before last May — Salesforce.com announced the release of Salesforce Files Connect.

The new centralized, universal file-sharing solution offers access to SharePoint Online and SharePoint 2010 and 2013. It will add access to OneDrive for Business in February before moving on to connect with other services.

Getting Together

Neither Salesforce nor Microsoft has said when or even if they will connect with the likes of Dropbox and Box, but it seems likely that we could see something of this sort in 2015. Google Drive has already been confirmed for the coming months.

For the moment, the file share service for SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business is included free of charge with Salesforce Enterprise, Unlimited and Performance editions. The same service with the SharePoint on-premises editions will cost $7 per user per month.

In a statement about the new release, Salesforce claims to be the first customer relationship management (CRM) company that offers native file integration with the most popular enterprise repositories around.

"With this file sharing solution, Salesforce is the first company to combine CRM and native file integration with the most popular enterprise file repositories, allowing users to seamlessly browse, search and share files located in any repository, all from a single user interface," the statement reads.

The idea behind Files Connect is to surface content from files contained in other repositories and to bring that content into Salesforce feeds through mobile devices or social networks.

Files can be connected to accounts, cases or any Salesforce object, placing relevant information into the flow of business. This means that users no longer need to go to another location to find a file, save it locally and then re-upload to the cloud in order to share and collaborate on it.

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Files Connect sharing from everywhere

Users can also attach files to feeds, groups or business records, putting them in the context of relevant discussions, so other employees can discover and use them in Chatter and the Community Cloud:

Nasi Jazayeri, executive vice president of Community Cloud at Salesforce, boasted in a statement that Salesforce was "redefining file sharing to provide a simple, single point of access to multiple file repositories."

Salesforce has also released a Files Connet API that will enable enterprises to provide the file access and sharing capabilities in any app built on the Salesforce 1 Platform.

Putting the Past Behind

The release of Files Connect is the first significant release since Salesforce and Microsoft buried the hatchet and signed a partnership agreement.

At the time, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the partnership would focus on connecting Office 365 and even Azure with the customer insights that Salesforce.com offers.

Marc Benioff, Salesforce’s Chariman and CEO, said little about it at the time other than to note that the focus of the partnership is making enterprise users more productive. (Well, he’d have to say that really, wouldn’t he?)

Nevertheless, given the enterprise reach of both companies, the potential of the partnership is huge. Files Connect with SharePoint Online, along with the SharePoint 2010 and 2013 editions, or even with OneDrive for Business (once that is available), is only a start to what is potentially possible.

This is particularly true given the role SharePoint currently plays in many enterprises as both enterprise content management system and collaboration platform. There is little doubt that this is only the start of a very productive partnership, if both companies can keep the hatchet buried with a lot more on the way around this partnership in 2015.

Title image by Bowen Chin  (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.