Who will be the ‘Dropbox of the enterprise?’ The race is on
It’s easy to work out why. Dropbox, which now claims 50 million users , is the lover of the cloud storage, file sharing, and synchronization world. People laud it for its ease of use, it’s cross-platform capability. That success has prompted a ton of dialogue about whether the San Francisco-based company, led by CEO Drew Houston, is a disruptor or a flash within the pan given that the key platform vendors – Microsoft , Google , Apple (a aapl) – are doing their very own cloud-based file-share-and-sync thing. VMware’s Project Octopus and Citrix’ acquisition of ShareFile also are seen as Dropbox-for-the-enterprise moves.
But there are dozens of smaller, more nimble cloud storage providers that like to replicate the success Dropbox has had with consumers within the business world. Box is one of the most prominent of those contenders however the number also includes Egnyte , 0 Accellion, 0 1 ownCloud, 1 2 GroupLogic 2 , 3 SurDoc 3 and others. And, Dropbox, itself is simply not standing still. It just 4 bought Cove 4 to aid increase its infrastructure and services to webscale, as GigaOM’s Derrick Harris reported.
All of those vendors promise to let users synchronize and share their files across all relevant desktops and devices, in a fashion that may not give their company’s IT departments fits.
This trend was definitely not lost at the 451 Group analyst Kathleen Reidy who suggests a full new category – mobile file sharing and sync platforms – to minimize the confusion. In a contemporary 5 blog post 5 , Reidy wrote that this entire “Dropbox for the enterprise” theme began to crop up last year …
… when Box started getting serious about the enterprise market and that i started to get plenty of briefing requests from the likes of Accellion, Egnyte and others about their enterprise file sharing and sync offerings. Things really started heating up later in 2011, as we saw VMWare announce its Dropbox-for-the-enterprise in August, Citrix acquire ShareFile in October; open source play ownCloud set sail in December and we recently initiated coverage on another startup, Germany-based TeamDrive.
Her argument is that the mobility bit is basically what’s important – and disruptive – here. People want their stuff to be available wherever, whenever and on whatever device they’ve got handy. And he or she weighs in on classifying this as a platform in preference to a feature since these new products will enable a whole lot of customization and add-ons and an ecosystem of third parties with a view to provide all that.
One caveat: 50 million Dropbox users sounds great. Box claims 9 million users. But neither company is especially forthcoming about what percentage of these users at the moment are paying instead of using the companies’ free or “freemium” services. That’s a huge question for these Dropbox for the Enterprise wannabes to think of. Presumably, the wonderful thing about an enterprise model is that businesses pays for business-grade services. But it’s difficult to get “freemium” users to maneuver to a paid model – 6 the conversion rate 6 is often regarded as 1 percent to three percent on the high end.
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