There’s no way to paint Salesforce.com’s decision to launch Chatterbox — its own cloud file share and storage service — as good news for Box. After all, Salesforce.com is both an investor in and partner with Box.
Still Box is forging ahead with new alliances with other Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) players including NetSuite, Concur, DocuSign, Jive, Oracle, SugarCRM and Zendesk as part of its Box Embed program, which CEO Aaron Levie is expected to announce at the Boxworks conference on Tuesday. Box Embed is a new HTML5 framework that can be embedded in the other applications to make Box’s file preview, comments, search and other capabilities available to those users, said Chris Yeh, VP of platform for Los Altos, CA-based Box. As for Salesforce.com’s move, Yeh said Chatterbox won’t be out for several months and Box will have to see how it plays out.
The upside for those other companies is they don’t have to pay to develop their own file-share and storage solution. “It is a big investment for most companies do what we do [which is] manage the security across files, all the UI components … that’s why NetSuite is working with us, they see the benefit,” Yeh told me in an interview.
The upside for Box — which now claims 14 million users — is it gets stickier as users of other SaaS platforms come to rely on it for their business documents. But Box’s problem long-term is that a lot of very large software companies are building their own Box-like capabilities. Alfresco just added centralized file sharing and syncing to its content management suite. Microsoft has Skydrive which it’s integrating tightly into Windows. Google has Google Drive. Apple has iCloud. And there’s also Dropbox — the consumer giant among cloud storage companies — always on the horizon.
In addition, Oracle in particular is a tricky vendor for other vendors to work with given its tendency to compete with its ISV partners. The Oracle relationship pertains only to Oracle CRM on demand, a SaaS product, not its bread-and-butter database and other enterprise applications.