Box brings former Symantec CEO aboard as advisor

Box is naming Enrique Salem, former CEO of Symantec(s symc), as a board advisor. The move, to be announced Tuesday, signals a couple of things. First, that data or file security — whatever you want to call it — is of paramount importance to the business accounts Box is wooing.

Second: Salem’s experience at Symantec, the big PC software security company, gives him the sorts of enterprise contacts that not only Box, but its rivals Dropbox, Accellion, Egnyte, ownCloud, you-name-the-vendor — would like to know a lot better.

In an recent interview about his appointment, Salem said Box, working with a slate of partners, has an opportunity to set a new standard around security.

“I’ve spent a lot of my career thinking about what matters [in security] and I think it starts with the notion of classification,” Salem said. After all, for most companies, there is data and then there is data. “I used to meet with a lady at a large chemical company who said ‘1 percent of my data is what really matters. We spend a billion dollars on a new chemical formula and that’s what I need to protect.'”

This sounds a lot like a military or espionage view of information where there are various categories of secret, top secret, super-duper top secret etc. — each level with additional layers of security.

Box CEO Aaron Levie said Salem’s experience managing a company “far larger than Box is incredibly helpful.”

“This is an opportunity to work together and drive more of a strategy and awareness around the future of cloud and enterprise security models,” he noted.

Since Box is where a lot of corporate information will be stored, it’s in a unique position to help set up an “information centric” view of the world, Salem said.

The news of his appointment, not coincidentally, happens as the RSA Conference kicks off in San Francisco. Box will host a lunch for executives attending that event on Tuesday.

Salem noted that Box has already made great strides in security and that industry efforts like the Cloud Security Alliance are also doing good work but much more needs to be done to make CEOs and CISOs more comfortable using cloud services.

What Box does is carefully watched. The company announced a $100 million funding round¬†in December and filed a “secret IPO” in late January.

Salem joins former Microsoft Windows chief  Steven Sinofsky as a Box advisor. Both men offer good enterprise IT bona fides that could help Box as it battles not just consumer-rooted Dropbox, which is trying to come upstream into the enterprise, but also cloud offerings from legacy IT vendors including EMC(s emc) with Syncplicity and Documentum and Citrix with ShareFile and Microsoft with its Sharepoint-plus-Office amalgam.

Clearly this market is nothing if not frenetic, but the vendors that pitch the best combination of SaaS-oriented ease of use with security and compliance perks, will be best positioned to benefit.

To hear more from the always entertaining Levie, check out our Structure podcast from last summer.

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