Box adds more enterprise perks to cloud storage

Box's Aaron Levie at GigaOM Net:Work 2011

Box's Aaron Levie at GigaOM Net:Work 2011Cloud storage provider Box is adding more enterprise-class features to its storage service including a more advanced administrative console, enterprise-wide search, and the ability to support multiple email domains in a single account. The new features are available in beta form as of Thursday.

The Los Altos, Calif., company, which claims 11 million users, is pushing its cloud storage as an IT-friendly safe and secure way for business users to store documents, presentations, photos and share them as needed.

With the new enterprise search, administrators can scan, search and view files and folders across their organization to see how they are shared both inside and outside the company. Then they can grant or end access to content for any user.

Administrators can also now layer password locks and set permissions for  smartphone users to control offline access to files. Those capabilities are available now for Android devices and are coming for iOS.

These are the sorts of features that should make cloud storage more palatable to IT staff worried about employees putting corporate documents into a less-secure cloud. As more companies promote bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs in which employees use their own smartphones and tablets for work, this notion of controllable yet easy-to-use cloud storage is big. IBM made news earlier this week when it was reported that for its own BYOD program, it is stripping out some device capabilities (including iPhone’s Siri) and blocking use of public file transfer programs.

The problem is that so many consumers have gotten used to easy file sync, transfer and storage services like Dropbox, that they use them at work. Box’s pitch is it combines the ease of use of Dropbox with its own secure cloud and IT-friendly controls.

Box also launched a new Enterprise Licensing Agreement (ELA) which offers the type of multi-year pricing and volume discounts that corporate customers have come to expect from software vendors. IT also named Avaya, Lennar, MGM Resorts International, Netflix, Stanford University and Webcor Builders as new customers.

CIOs are getting more comfortable with cloud storage but others in IT are still loathe to move company data off site — they worry about security and outages beyond their control. Box had a minor slip early this week when some customers were unable to access their documents for a few hours. Glitches like this could impact cloud storage adoption although — as several GigaOM commenters pointed out — such glitches are not cloud-specific: they  happen inside company data centers all the time.

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