Box Targets Enterprise With Office 365, AT&T Integration

Box this week expanded its cloud storage and cloud file sync and share capabilities with several new features and partnerships aimed at helping it become more of an enterprise technology provider.

The news from Box, unveiled at this week's BoxWorks conference in San Francisco, includes Microsoft Office 365 integration, new workflow and data retention capabilities, partnerships with Accenture and AT&T and a new initiative for building Box into industry-specific applications.

The news helps Box, which expects to hold an IPO in the near future, to continue its shift away from its consumer and small business roots towards an emphasis on the enterprise, said Rafi Kronzon, CEO at Cartwheel, a New York-based managed services partner which partners with Box and Microsoft.

[Related: File Sync And Share: Channel In Demand To Help Business Users]

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However, whether the new capabilities will actually change the perception of Box in the enterprise remains to be seen, Kronzon told CRN.

"If Box wants to differentiate itself, it needs to do so with its core product and not via partnerships," he said. "Look at the partnership with Office 365. What if Microsoft one day says it no longer wants to partner?"

Box added a couple of new enterprise features to its cloud sync and share capabilities, said Whitney Bouck, senior vice president of global marketing and general manager of enterprise at the Los Altos, Calif.-based file sync and share company.

They include Box Retention Management, a new policy that allows users to set policies for how long data will be retained, Bouck told CRN.

"This gives channel partners the same level of control over retention policies as their customers have, giving them another service to use for such things as meeting compliance requirements," she said.

Also new is Box Workflow, a solution for automating people and process workflows in a simple and consistent manner, Bouck said.

"This is a huge value-add for the channel, which can use it as a differentiator when presenting Box to customers," she said.

Both new features will come free of charge, she said.

Box also introduced the integration of its file sync and share technology with Microsoft's Office 365, a feature currently in beta but expected to be available by year-end, Bouck said.

"Office 365 users can now access the Box capabilities directly without having to leave the Office 365 environment," she said. "It's now seamless. Before, customers could do this with other Microsoft Office suites, but not with Office 365."

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Kronzon said that the Office 365 integration puts Box in competition with the Microsoft OneDrive cloud storage technology. While Box is a better solution than OneDrive in that it provides more control over documents and allows the management of non-Office 365 documents, for Microsoft Office 365 users with multiple Microsoft applications, OneDrive makes more sense, he said.

Box also unveiled a partnership with AT&T that makes Box a part of AT&T's Toggle enterprise mobility management solution, Bouck said. Users of Toggle, which allows a smart phone to have both consumer and business personalities, can access Box technology on the business side, she said. Box users can also now take advantage of AT&T's NetBond private VPN to access documents on the Box cloud.

Box also has a new strategic partnership with Accenture which lets that integrator deliver Box technology to customers as part of a multi-technology solution, Bouck said.

Finally, Box introduced Box for Industries, a new initiative to combine Box’s metadata, workflow, compliance and platform capabilities with third-party, industry-specific applications, Bouck said.

"We're taking the Box platform with blueprints and best practices to combine with third-party apps as integrated platforms," she said.

Included as a part Box for Industries, which is being initially rolled out for the retail, healthcare and media and entertainment industries, is turnkey consulting services from Box to develop specific implementations for each business, Bouck said.

"These solutions are not based on specific customer requirements, but rather on common requirements for server customers in that industry," she said.

Kronzon said he hopes the new Box capabilities help take the company beyond its storage focus.

"With the Box news, it looks like it's taking a page out of's playbook," he said. "After Salesforce came to market, a lot of competitors appeared. Salesforce responded by shifting to a platform. But it had the advantage of a core offering. Box's core offering is weak. It's just storage."