Things are already pretty messy in the productivity space between Microsoft and Google. But it could get a whole lot messier.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) just announced that its document storage, sharing and collaboration application for the enterprises is now on general release.
Amazon Zocalo has been in limited preview since July, but is now available to all AWS customers with bargain basement prices, and could be a game changer in the document collaboration and sharing and sync space.
Zocalo lets users preview, collaborate and comment on Microsoft Office files, PDFs, web pages, images and text files directly in Zocalo. It also offers a 30-day free trial during which users get 200 GB of storage per user for up to 50 users and then $5 per user per month.
First thing to note here is that this is not a productivity suite in the sense that workers can use it to create and manage documents. Amazon describes it as a fully managed, secure enterprise storage and sharing service with strong administrative controls and feedback capabilities that improve user productivity.
With it, users can store, share and gather feedback on documents, spreadsheets, presentations, webpages, images, PDFs or text files – from the device of their choice.
When the limited preview was started in July, Noah Eisner, general manager of Amazon Zocalo, said:
Customers have told us that they’re fed up with the cost, complexity and performance of their existing old guard enterprise document and collaboration management tools. AWS was increasingly being asked to provide an enterprise storage and sharing tool that was easy to use, allowed users to quickly collaborate with others and met the strict security needs of their organizations. That’s what Amazon Zocalo was built to do.”
Zocalo Document Sharing
So Zocalo was built to simplify the process of collaborating on documents and specifically to manage the difficulties around overly complex systems. Over the past several years, enterprise document and collaboration systems have tried to be too many things to users, including no-holds-barred fully comprehensive document management systems.
The result is increasingly complex and expensive systems that are forcing enterprises back to email or preventing them from leaving email in the first place. The problems with email have been well teased-out in the past, but the principal problem is that while the messages are easy to send, they are difficult to secure. It is also increasingly difficult to control where potentially sensitive enterprise data lands.
Zocalo, however, makes it easy for users to share and gather feedback through a secure, central tool. It also gives them a consistent experience on the device of their choice, including laptops, iPad, Kindle Fire and Android tablets. Additionally, it can integrate with existing corporate directories and offers administrators flexible sharing rules, audit logs and, increasingly important, a control over where the information is stored.
So what is all this about? At the time of the July limited preview Richard Edwards, principal analyst for enterprise mobility and productivity software at Ovum said that he didn’t believe that on its own Zocalo would be a disruptive technology, but combined with Amazon Workspaces ... well. that’s a different story.
Zocalo is designed to combine with Amazon WorkSpaces (the company’s fully managed, cloud-based, desktop computing service) to provide organizations with an alternative to traditional, on premise virtualized desktop infrastructure solutions from companies like Citrix and VMware.
As a stand-alone product, Zocalo will initially target the document review process – one notch above the commodity file sync and share service typified by Dropbox. Ovum believes that Amazon is unlikely to woo customers away from established enterprise file sync and share vendors with Zocalo alone, but things get more interesting if one considers this product alongside Amazon WorkSpaces.
He pointed out that Amazon is currently charging $52 per month for its “Standard Plus” WorkSpace (which gives the user access to Microsoft Office 2010, a web browser, WinZip and Adobe Reader). For another $2 organizations can bolt on Zocalo and get a fully managed virtualized desktop.
He also points out that as enterprises move towards a work model where they can access any data from any device it is important to get their file sync and sharing product right to prevent workers moving to a consumer-orientated file share product. The preview already created considerable interest so there should be quite a lot of activity around this in the coming months.