Box, Dropbox get down to business with new enterprise cloud services

Dropbox for Business drops on enterprises with added IT management tools, while Box offers a sprawling suite for legal professionals.

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Box and Dropbox recently expanded their enterprise cloud services with new features that could change IT pros' perception of the cloud file-sharing and storage providers' products as unsecure consumer platforms.

Box introduced a legal technology services ecosystem last week that includes partnerships with 22 mobile and Web legal platforms with applications for timekeeping, billing, practice and case management, and courtroom information management.

Box and Dropbox are already left, right and center in the enterprise whether IT people like it or not.
Benjamin Robbinsmobile analyst, Palador

It's the latest area of specific enterprise ecosystem offerings from Box following the release of similar platforms for education, health care and financial, among others.

Box's rival, Dropbox, also revamped its Dropbox for Business to attract greater enterprise use. Features include 1,000 GB of space to start, file recovery and versioning, 256-bit AES encryption, remote wipe, two-step verification and more.

Later this month, users will be able to access both Dropbox for Business and a personal Dropbox from the same device at any time. Dropbox for Business is available in beta mode for a free trial now, and it will cost $795 a year.

Dropbox changing its security perception?

It's been a rocky road for Dropbox as an enterprise tool, mainly due to security concerns.

The integration of Dropbox in its consumer form was thought to be a nightmarish scenario for IT, but it appears Dropbox for Business introduces some of the tools needed for enterprise management.

Dropbox needed a change in image from an IT perspective, and adding these tools was an important step in the right direction, according to Benjamin Robbins, principal and mobile analyst at Palador Inc., an enterprise mobility consulting firm in Seattle.

"Box and Dropbox are already left, right and center in the enterprise whether IT people like it or not," Robbins said. "A lot of IT folks don't like it, and it comes from a sort of old 'command and control' mentality."

Between security, application wrapping and bring your own device, the enterprise has "fully embraced the comingling of spaces," according to Robbins, and the ability to have personal Dropbox and enterprise Dropbox in the same space is in line with that.

Despite the new features for Dropbox for Business, it remains the "800-pound gorilla in the space," according to Kristine Kao, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, a research firm in Milford, Mass.

While the most important new feature of the Dropbox for Business offerings was the integration with personal Dropbox accounts, the company is still focusing on its biggest user base, and that's with non-enterprise consumers, according to Kao.

"Dropbox isn't quite there yet for enterprise IT," Kao said. "They have a long way to go to add the security and auditability that IT people want to see."

Box shores up legal offerings

There were two critical components to the rollout of Box's new legal offerings, according to Alan Lepofsky, vice president and principal analyst for Toronto-based Constellation Research Inc.

First, the ecosystem Box has created for the legal community is second-to-none in the sphere of collaboration, file sharing and the full suite of enterprise cloud applications, Lepofsky said. He added that users "don't need to think of it as Box because what they have is built into the tools."

The second component was Box's go-to-market strategy, which included partnering with the American Bar Association (ABA). The company said they were selected to be part of the ABA's Advantage Program, which allows ABA members to sign up for 50 free gigabytes of space from Box.

"It was an extremely smart strategy and a pretty huge win to get them on board," Lepofsky said.

Chad Burton, an attorney who runs a Dayton, Ohio-based law firm based on a virtual model with attorneys in Ohio, North Carolina and Washington, D.C., moved his firm to Box in 2011 and has been pleased with "more comprehensive document management approach," scale for business and integration with its legal practice management service, Clio.

"It's key from a mobility standpoint," Burton said, who aims to have a completely paperless practice. "Box has been the backbone of our organization and allows us to operate as we do."

Burton said his firm previously used Dropbox but found it didn't scale well for their practice and also felt there were security concerns, something that can't exist in a profession centered on confidentiality.

"There's nothing about what Box is offering now that I feel uneasy about," Burton said.

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