This week, Box announced the launch of Box Zones to deliver region-based Box functionality that gives customers the choice of storing data in specific geographic regions. For example, Box Zones currently supports data storage in the U.S., Ireland, Germany, Singapore and Japan, thereby giving customers the ability to designate the geography of their data storage for reasons driven by factors such as compliance, policy or operations. Enabled by a collaboration between Box and AWS and IBM, Box Zones intends to accelerate enterprise adoption of Box by giving companies more flexibility and control with respect to the storage of their data. The announcement of Box Zones builds on Box’s release of Box Governance, a framework that gives companies enhanced data retention and data security functionality, in addition to Box KeySafe, which gives customers the ability to own and manage their own encryption keys. Box’s decision to offer customers geography-specific data storage options renders its platform amenable to a broader variety of customers and use cases and stands to differentiate its offering sharply from other competitors such as Dropbox, which recently removed 90% of its infrastructure off the public cloud to its own infrastructure.
Today, Netskope announced a partnership with Box that enables IT administrators to standardize cloud-based storage on the Box storage and file-sharing infrastructure. Netskope, a cloud application analytics and policy enforcement vendor, detects all cloud-based applications within a customer’s infrastructure and delivers automated messages that guide users away from the usage of unauthorized storage and collaboration applications, toward Box. Netskope’s partnership with Box illustrates its capabilities with respect to the problem of unauthorized cloud-based applications in enterprise IT environments. Netskope’s core product offering involves its ability to run real-time analytics on application usage and identify real or potential security breaches as exemplified by anomalous user or application behavior. The Netskope platform also allows customers to define, implement and administer policies related to the usage of cloud applications in ways that enable IT administrators to seamlessly implement the same policy for a group of applications instead of implementing policies and procedures for applications individually. Netskope’s partnership with Box strengthens Box’s positioning in the enterprise cloud storage and file-sharing space by simplifying customer standardization on the Box platform. Conversely, the platform vaults the positioning of Netskope given the prominence of the Box platform as a popular platform for collaboration and storage. By extending today’s announcement to other applications within the Box ecosystem such as Jive, Marketo, Yammer, SlideShark and DocuSign, Netskope underscores the utility of streamlined policy management for cloud-based applications and indicates that the IT policy management space is likely to witness a proliferation of similar partnerships as the heterogeneity of cloud applications demands more automation with respect to cloud application management and security enforcement.
After filing for an IPO in March, Box has raised $150M from TPG Growth and Coatue Management. The $150M in funding is intended to delay Box’s IPO given a weak market for technology IPOs and tech stocks more generally. As a result of the recent round of funding, Box has an estimated valuation of $2.4 billion and TPG Growth is expected to earn a seat on Box’s board of directors. Box’s first quarter revenue jumped 94% to $45.3M from $23.4M in 2013. Despite its impressive Q1 2014 increase in revenue, Box remains unprofitable and reported a loss of $38.5M for the first quarter of 2014 in comparison to $34M for the corresponding period in 2013. Box CEO Aaron Levie remarked on this week’s funding raise as follows:
Our mission is to help organizations be more productive, collaborative and competitive by connecting people and their most important information. This focus has been instrumental in building a customer base that includes some of the most influential businesses in the world. We’re excited to work with TPG Growth and Coatue as we continue to aggressively invest in our customers, technology, and future growth.
Here, Levie underscores the way in which cloud-based technologies such as the Box platform facilitate collaboration and productivity in much the same vein that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella touts the value of cloud computing as enabling collaboration and communication. Box boasts users spanning over 240,000 businesses worldwide and was recently named a leader in Gartner’s inaugural Magical Quadrant for Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing amongst Citrix, EMC and Accellion. Nevertheless, post-IPO filing capital raises are rare and underscore the cooling market for cloud-based technologies as U.S. investors critically engage whether lucrative tech IPOs will be able to sustain their valuations, post-IPO, year after year. Box does intend to go public in 2014, but not until after Labor Day.
This week, Box acquired Streem, creator of StreamFS, a file sharing system that allow users to access cloud-based files as if they were natively attached to their desktop infrastructure by means of its streaming technology. StreamFS enables users to stream the cloud-based version of the file in question to their end user device without keeping a local copy of the file on their desktop. Users can stream files dynamically on their machine as if the requisite file belonged to a natively attached storage infrastructure instead of from a cloud-deployment. As a result, users can enjoy the storage, collaboration and backup and retention benefits of a cloud-based deployment without the challenge of transferring cloud-based files to their local infrastructure and subsequently synchronizing files across the local and cloud platforms.
Box CEO Aaron Levie commented on the significance of Y-Combinator backed Streem in a blog post as follows:
Streem has developed amazing technology that allows you to mount a cloud drive onto your computer — making documents, presentations, videos and files available to you without the limitations of your local hard-disk, effectively turning the cloud into an “unlimited” drive. Rather than files living directly on your computer’s disk, they are instead securely “streamed” to you on demand when you need to interact with them. And to further optimize the experience and support low-bandwidth environments, Streem has developed enhanced video and media streaming technology to ensure content is accessible from the cloud as fast as it is locally.
Here, Levie elaborates on how Streem’s technology enables users “to mount a cloud drive onto your computer” that subsequently makes available repositories of files available, on demand, via its streaming technology. Moreover, Streem’s technology optimizes the delivery of media content in conjunction with the bandwidth constraints and media viewing applications of the user. Levie went onto note that:
For customers across data-intensive industries like Media & Entertainment, Oil & Gas, Healthcare, and Manufacturing, this means instant access to far larger volumes of data than what your local drives can support. For enterprises in regulated industries like Life Sciences and Financial Services, it means better protection and control of information and where it lives.
Levie underscores how Box’s acquisition of Streem gives customers streamlined access to larger volumes of data while concurrently maintaining high standards for data security and compliance. Box’s acquisition of Streem positions it to serve the needs of enterprise customers that are more accustomed to using local data infrastructures as opposed to cloud-deployments because Streem delivers an end-user experience that corresponds to the local storage platforms that continue to dominate enterprise IT. As a result of the acquisition, Streem’s team of four will join the Box team to begin the process of integrating Streem’s platform with Box’s technology. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed although, according to TechCrunch, Box mentioned that the purchase was completed through a combination of cash and stock.
Today, cloud security vendor CipherCloud announced an enhancement to its relationship with Box whereby Box customers can now take advantage of CipherCloud’s AES 256-bit encryption functionality. The announcement means that customers can now enjoy military-grade encryption that renders their data practically inaccessible to the prying eyes of unauthorized users of any kind. CipherCloud’s solution uses Box APIs to track and encrypt data as it enters the CipherCloud platform in conjunction with customer-based rules that determine which data is deemed sensitive and requires encryption. Moreover, CipherCloud’s encryption solution for Box allows users to configure a range of automated settings for sensitive data that include sharing restrictions, alerts, data quarantine and automated encryption, all of which are configured through the Box interface itself. In contrast to offerings whereby the cloud vendor retains access to the encryption keys, CipherCloud allows customers to retain the encryption keys. Because customers retain control of the encryption keys for data stored in Box, authorized users can access the encrypted data at any time, giving customers greater control with respect to data access. CipherCloud’s encryption solution for Box supports mobile devices and additionally boasts configurable notifications for instances of potential security breaches.
CipherCloud claims an impressive array of data loss protection (DLP) services for a range of cloud platforms that include Amazon Web Services, Salesforce, Gmail and Office 365. Today’s Box announcement builds upon its existing DLP solution for Box and claims a competitive edge over CipherCloud’s competitors by virtue of its streamlined integration with the Box platform. The company currently claims over 2 million users in 14 countries and 10 industries. CipherCloud is backed by venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures, and T-Venture and has raised $31.4 million in capital to date. As concerns about cloud data security proliferate given recent disclosures of government agency surveillance alongside internal and external breaches of enterprise data, CipherCloud should be expected to consolidate its position in the cloud data security space, particularly in light of its recent AES 256-bit encryption offering.
Today, Teambox announced a partnership with Box whereby consumers and enterprises alike can access a Teambox-Box bundle marked by 15 GB of storage space in addition to Teambox’s collaboration functionality. More than just a 15 GB online storage drive, the Teambox-Box bundle allows users to share documents, comment, assign tasks, create content and build online teams in order to maximize team productivity. In cases where teams have traditionally conducted work through protracted email exchanges that often result in the collation of individual contributions in order to finalize a deliverable, the Teambox-Bundle now offers a way for teams to effectively collaborate and comment on evolving work in real-time.
The Teambox-Box bundle additionally enables consumers to produce their own, original work within the online interface itself using either Google Docs and Spreadsheets or Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The resulting interface is powerful not only for geographically dispersed teams but also for teams that inhabit the same brick and mortar workplace. Moreover, users can download applications that permit teams to share project artifacts across a range of platforms including the iPhone/iPad, Android, HP TouchPad and Windows Phone. Team members can also seamlessly embed files within blogs or websites, post artifacts to social networks and create links to content that can be circulated via email.
Steve Hufford, CEO of Society for Information Management, remarked on his organization’s use of Teambox as follows:
We use Teambox to manage our business here at Society for Information Management, a network of thousands of CIOs, and VP’s of IT spread across the country. Early on we faced the challenge of organizing a remote network with a wide array of interconnected programs and needed a collaboration solution that was simple and intuitive. Teambox answered the call, we feel it’s the most complete team collaboration tool out there. Given our technical member base, security and compliance were growing concerns. We’re early adopters of the Teambox-Box bundle and moved to this technology to hone our security and couldn’t be happier knowing we are protected.
Hufford points out the “simple and intuitive” nature of the Teambox collaboration platform but also notes how “security and compliance were growing concerns” given the company’s contributions from technical members. Here, Hufford refers to the auditing and usage reporting capabilities of the Teambox-Box bundle that allows a project administrator to produce audit trails and investigate all points of access to project artifacts. Teambox CEO Dan Schoenbaum underscored the importance of security by noting that the proliferation of consumer-driven IT platforms renders enterprise security more complex:
With the consumerization of IT, we’re seeing a trend of more and more customer employees storing their company files on unsecured networks. Teambox is addressing this trend by offering free secure storage from Box. Now, companies not only have unmatched team collaboration, but the confidence of accessing and sharing content from any device, any where and securely.
With the Teambox-Box bundle’s security and audit features, enterprises stand to benefit not only from enhanced collaboration, but also from improved security and compliance as well. The Teambox-Box bundle is free for up to 5 users, 5 projects and 15 GB of storage. Pricing for subsequent users starts at $5/user/month, with unlimited storage. The Teambox press release notes that organizations that commit to one or two year subscriptions are eligible for discounts for large groups.
The Teambox-Box partnership illustrates that the collaboration space is hot. Teambox already has partnerships with Dropbox and Google Docs and boasts a customer base of 150,000 businesses including the likes of Southwest Airlines, Groupon, the University of Arizona and the World Bank. As the tech blogosphere buzzes with predictions about cloud computing and Big Data in 2013, the Teambox-Box partnership suggests that analysts and consumers alike should keep a close eye on the rapidly evolving collaboration space and its impact on enterprise IT.