Box.net came out swinging at its first-ever BoxWorks customer conference this week, adding new syncing capabilities and security to its cloud file sharing, content management and storage platform to take on rival Microsoft.
Box also gave a sneak peek into its product roadmap, which takes a page from Saleforce.com's recent social enterprise push to add new social capabilities to its cloud platform.
Box CEO and co-founder Aaron Levie's opening keynote saw several jabs taken at Box's main competitor, Microsoft. Levie struck early, probing the audience to see where attendees were from. He asked if any attendees were there from Redmond, Wash. When no hands went up, he said: "Microsoft couldn't send any spies to this thing?"
Levie painted an optimistic picture of Box in 2011. "We survived the rapture, so that's good news," Levie said, noting that Box now has 7 million global users, more than 100,000 businesses that actively use Box and more than 150 million files accessed on Box monthly. And in 2011 the company launched more than 40 new features. Levie also highlighted a host of major Box customers, including McAfee, Six Flags, Turner Construction and Skype, which was acquired by Microsoft. "For the first time in history, Microsoft employees can share information," Levie quipped.
This year also saw Box launch its first ever channel partner program and also add integrations with major market players like Google.
And at BoxWorks, the company showed off a host of new features the company said puts it in a stronger position to compete with Microsoft SharePoint and others.
First, Box took the wraps off its cross-platform enterprise sync play, which the company said gives organizations the ability to get more value from business data. The updated Box Sync for Windows and the new Box Sync for Mac which Box let users connect desktop content to the cloud and integrate that content into workflow, while accessing it from anywhere on any device. Box users can work offline in native applications and sync edits back to their Box account, while also accessing synced content from any mobile device.
Box Sync for Windows and Box Sync for Mac will be available as free downloadable desktop clients next month for business and enterprise customers.
"To date, sync technologies have focused on solving the problem for the individual consumer -- how can I make my locally stored content accessible from any device?" Levie said in a statement. "The complexity of this problem is greatly magnified in the enterprise, where massive amounts of content need to be connected to the cloud, secured, and then integrated into business workflow. At Box, we want to help companies realize a future where they get infinitely more intelligence from their information and can make better decisions, faster -- and it won't be a future owned by Microsoft."
Along with new sync capabilities, box also launched a number of new security features it will roll out to business and enterprises customers in the fourth quarter, including a new Trussted Access section that tracks which browsers, applications and devices are connected to Box. Box will also roll out Trusted Sharing controls to help companies define sharing permissions by domain, users and groups.