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News flash: Dropbox still wants to be the Dropbox of the Enterprise …

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The notion of cloud-based file sync and storage (now known as FSS) has taken consumers by storm and sloshed over into businesses big time. And Dropbox, which is the market leader by far among consumers, wants to take advantage of that popularity within corporate firewalls and is launching a partner program to make it happen.

Last month, Dropbox execs talked to GigaOM broadly about this plan┬áto push Dropbox for Business (once known as Dropbox for Teams), but did not share many details. Now it’s time to come clean.

The program officially launches Wednesday with 150 partners culled from “thousands of inbound requests,” said Adam Nelson, the Dropbox exec in charge of channels. For the chosen partners, there is a reseller portal to handle lead registration, purchasing and team management. “Our goal is to make the portal as easy for partners to use as Dropbox is for customers,” Nelson said.

And, getting to the crux of the issue, partners that register a lead will get margin on Dropbox for Business sales ranging from 15 percent to 25 percent of the sale each month on a recurring basis. The partners, not Dropbox, will handle billing and support. That “customer ownership” is a key bone of contention in traditional partner programs where resellers often get squeezed out of deals by vendors that insist on managing end customers directly. Dropbox for Business starts at $795 per year with unlimited storage.

Dropbox internal sales people will get paid on deals whether the deal goes direct or through a partner. In theory, that means inside sales people will not poach deals.

On the product side, Dropbox has been adding IT-friendly perks including Active Directory integration and single sign-on over the past year.

Dropbox will have to contend with a veritable army of other vendors that want this business and pitch their own FSS as more IT friendly and secure than Dropbox itself. They include Egnyte, Accellion, Box, LogMeIn(s logm) and OwnCloud. And then there are the big boys coming into the more consumer-oriented end of the market, Google(s goog) with Google Drive, Microsoft(s msft) with SkyDrive etc.

Asked about who Dropbox is contending with in enterprise accounts, Kevin Egan, Dropbox VP of sales, would only say, “It’s a very competitive space.”

He also cited recent Spiceworks research that showed Dropbox to be the favored cloud FSS product not only by end users but by their companies, as well. A whopping 93 percent of end users in 272 small and medium businesses surveyed named Dropbox as their preferred choice. IT pros were less bullish, but still 40 percent of “companies” among 162 respondents named Dropbox as their favorite, still the No. 1 choice. This is interesting considering that some companies, including IBM (s ibm), have forbidden its use.

The San Francisco startup clearly is banking that people who use Dropbox personally are demanding its use at work and will sway the buying decision. Dropbox says it is running in 2 million unique businesses and in 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies. Still, as the Spiceworks survey indicates, IT folks are less likely to embrace Dropbox than are regular consumers.

It’s the former constituency that Dropbox for Business has to woo. Now it’s hoping savvy partners will help it do so.

spiceworks survey

6 Responses to “News flash: Dropbox still wants to be the Dropbox of the Enterprise …”

  1. cybspi

    Dropbox is a great platform if you don’t mind a service provider having complete, unfettered access to your sensitive docs. Same goes for all these Dropbox-clones that are supposedly “security conscious”.

    If you really value privacy (which enterprises do), you should use adeptCloud. Files are stored on-premise exclusively. We provide you the software to provide access to your user’s files on the devices they want to use (mobile, web and desktop, Mac, Windows and Linux). And unlike VMWare or other private clouds, adeptCloud also enables sharing private content across organizational boundaries, a feature truly unique to the platform.

  2. Jason McKenzie

    VMware Workspace. Secure, self-provisioned, IT-managed corporate FSS with collaborative features you can’t get in Dropbox, PLUS the ability to create a self-provisioning application catalog to package all of your corporate apps into a self-serve portal your users can access from practically any device.

    Full disclosure: I’m in sales at VMware. I also use Workspace on a daily basis, and it has saved me again and again in last-minute situations by allowing me to find docs on my phone I needed for presos, and login to CRM, analytics and other apps from my browser w/o having to VPN in or authenticate into each tool.

  3. Jo Johnson

    Speaking of Dropbox, a good alternative thats getting abuzz right now is Apparently it’s functions are the same as Dropbox’s but it is a bit more secure because files are encrypted on your end before they are uploaded.

    Also they’re giving everyone 15GB to start with free for life, 20GB with a referral. If anyone wants to start with that extra +5GB, you could use my referral code and we’ll both get a bonus.

    15GB +5GB = 20 GB

    Thanks guys!

  4. DropBox – support encryption at rest and let companies control their own keys. This will help enterprises open up to their users without worrying as much about exposing sensitive data.