Box gives its customers ‘regions to be cheerful’
The Box World Tour rolled into London again this week, and I was there to see how the company’s enterprise march continues across Europe – and how it’s being received by the crowd in suits who came along to listen.
Some of the announcements made at the London edition of the Box World Tour can be traced back to teasers and trailers at last year’s BoxWorks. For example, KeySafe is the more marketing-friendly name for the company’s Encryption Key Management service. It now includes a software version (via AWS Key Management Service) alongside the existing AWS Hardware Service Module it launched with, making it more attractive to smaller organisations for whom a hardware appliance wasn’t a cost-effective option.
But some were all-new. Box Zones is the company’s data geo-specificity option, born of partnerships with IBM’s SoftLayer and Amazon Web Services, and made possible by Box separating its core application capabilities from its storage layer. From its launch next month, Box Zones will allow customers to specify where their content is stored from a choice of AWS or IBM datacentres in Germany, Ireland, Singapore, and Japan (as an alternative to Box’s own US-based ones). However Box’s VP of Compliance, Chrispen Maung, mooted in-session it may one day also extend the same level of geo-specificity to where content-related compute takes place as well (for customers for whom geo-specific storage alone, even with Box Keys in-region, still isn’t a sufficient data sovereignty safeguard to allow sensitive workloads to move to the cloud).
Along with Box Governance, which allows organisations to set retention policies and meet compliance requirements, these new / enhanced services are set to further bolster the company’s data sovereignty and security credentials. Something its competitors (see my blog on Intralinks Distributed Content Node announcements last week) will be watching keenly. More and more vendors are taking note of the burgeoning interest in security, compliance, and sovereignty concerns across all industries (not just regulated ones), and are seeking to position themselves as the go-to people for enterprise-friendly (yet consumer-savvy) content collaboration SaaS. Box Zones is a part of this.
There was also an evolution concerning the positioning of Box Platform. It’s now referred to as belonging to a class of “Functional PaaS” services that typically form the building blocks of popular apps (as opposed to the much wider-scoped ‘classic’ PaaS). Think more Twillio, Stripe, and SendGrid, rather than Salesforce’s Lightning platform, IBM’s BlueMix, etc. It’s a sensible articulation, but it’s still early days for the company’s Platform business unit. The World Tour featured a break-out track for partners, showing off the platform and how money can be made from it. However it was clear from some of the in-session Q&A that details like charging models will still need to come in for some “negotiation” as all involved feel their way along the path to ecosystem nirvana.
In summary, there’s some significant news for Box’s international customers with the launch of Box Zones and enhancements to Box KeySafe. And the PaaS (now Functional PaaS) story continues to develop apace. There’s also news of the further strengthening of Box’s partnership with IBM as Big Blue introduced the first MobileFirst for iOS app, Expert Seller. This is interesting because it’s an app IBM have built with its partner Apple’s products in mind… using its partner Box to provide the content platform. Cue much mirth on-stage though, as the Box execs turned up in enterprise-friendly suits only to find their IBM partners had received a different memo and decided to come along in jeans.
So, if you’re a non-US Box customer, there were some things here that should encourage more content workloads to move to the cloud; if you’re an IBM customer (or iPad owner!) as well, those easier integrations just keep on coming. If you’re a prospective partner hoping to leverage Box Platform – again, there were some welcome commitments in-session by SVP for Platform Jeetu Patel about functionality parity with the core Box product, and a keenness to work out the kinks when it comes to the Platform business model. It’s clear that’s this is an evolving part of the business, albeit one where partners are encouraged to help Box shape the evolution. Nonetheless Box is clearly banking on it to place the company at the heart of ‘modern Enterprise Content Management’… whoever’s logo is on the app.