Woos Cloud Developers With Box Innovation Network

The cloud storage, collaboration and file sharing company has vowed to plunk down $2 million to drive the development of applications on the Box platform the new /bin network and has brought aboard a host of strategic partners to bring /bin developers on board, including Appcelerator, Heroku, VMware/Cloud Foundry, Rackspace, SnapLogic and Twilio.

"Today marks a major milestone for the Box platform," Box Platform Vice President Chris Yeh wrote in a blog post unveiling /bin. "With the launch of the Box Innovation Network (/bin), we’re laying the foundation for a more open enterprise ecosystem. To bring new innovation."

According to Yeh, Box wants to build an enterprise software company that drives innovation. To do so, the company is looking for new ways people can share and collaborate on Box while making it easy for third-party apps to leverage Box APIs to tackle new business challenges.

To propel the Box network forward, Yeh said Box will employ an open Web philosophy with APIs for third-party partners to leverage, a turnaround on other cloud and enterprise software players' models.

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"Slow-moving enterprise software giants have produced very little innovation in recent years, and their closed ecosystems have made it all but impossible for outside players to create compelling experiences for customers on legacy systems," Aaron Levie, co-founder and CEO of Box, said in a statement. "We're changing all of that -- and we're doing so in ways that platforms like Microsoft simply cannot -- by creating an open ecosystem of leading partners to enable developers to build and deploy Box applications instantly and on any platform."

With the $2 million /bin fund, Box said it can invest in bringing vertically-tailored apps to market for health care, construction, financial services and other industries. A number of apps have already been built on the Box platform. The money will go toward equity investments, intellectual property acquisitions and co-development of products for the enterprise.

The /bin ecosystem gives cloud developers the ability to build and deploy apps quickly. The goal is for members to build on the Box platforms to deliver products that address enterprise software needs. Partners will give members the tools and serves the need to build apps using Box APIs while building on top of any of the partner platforms. For example, Heroku offers a cloud development and deployment platform; VMware's Cloud Foundry adds more development and deployment tools; Rackspace offers hosting; Appcelerator offers a mobile development platform; Twilio is for communications APIs and SnapLogic offers cloud integration.

"Each of these partners represents an important element of open Web development today, and we will openly seek out and embrace others who share the same philosophy," Yeh wrote.

Yeh said Box currently has 4,500 active developers and partners and sees nearly 200 million API calls per month. Mobile has also seen massive growth, with a 30-times increase in volume of mobile enterprise deployments of Box between the close of the third quarter 2010 to the close of the third quarter 2011. Box expects /bin will increase the number of Box apps immensely.

"The launch of /bin is only a starting point for the Box platform and we're committed to building an ecosystem that will benefit everyone," Yeh wrote. "There's so much opportunity in this space and we're excited to work with the developer community to build something great."

The Box Innovation Network comes as makes great strides in the cloud storage world.

The company also recently added new syncing capabilities and security to its offerings, which it unveiled at its first-ever BoxWorks customer conference last month. Box also reportedly also recently deflected a potential acquisition from Citrix for an estimated $600 million and just weeks later announced raising $81 million in funding, bringing its total funding to $162 million.