Online storage and business application tools provider Box has opened a new section of its cloud with new business applications that the desktop-using public may not recognize, yet are popular among mobile device users.
The 6-year-old Los Altos, Calif.-based company on March 28 launched Box OneCloud, which moves to a new level the company's strategy to become a go-to provider of cloud services for enterprises.
Box OneCloud provides a suite of about 30 free business applications that enable workers to access, edit, and share content from their iPhones or iPads. The plan is for Box OneCloud to be available for Android devices by early May, Chris Yeh, vice president of platforms at Box, told eWEEK.
The applications include QuickOffice, a full-featured Microsoft Office spinoff for mobile devices; PDF Expert, which enables users to read and annotate portable document files; PaperPort Notes, a new digital note-taker; EasySign, an electronic document-signing tool; and Nozbe, a project and time-management application.
You can view a two-minute YouTube video here describing OneCloud.
"This is all about enterprise mobile at the core," Yeh said. "The number of Box mobile customers grew by over 30X last year. Depending upon what metrics you use, between 30 and 50 percent of Box's business now comes from mobile. What's most interesting is the intersection of that with business."
More Devices, More Fragmentation
What's happening is that as more and more people use different devices for work, company data gets fragmented among various personal and business applications and devices, Yeh said. Having a set of standard applications permanently in the Box cloud helps keep the data on fewer tracks and the number of variables down.
"When people use Box, they download documents, edit or manipulate them, and try to load them back into Box, if possible. What we were seeing was that things were fragmenting at the level of the individual device," Yeh said.
Box's "open-in" function allows users to open a documentsay a PDFin Adobe Reader, from Box's storage. When that happens, the file is transferred over to the other app for the user to edit.
"The challenge for the enterprise is that, if you were using an iPad using today's (Reader) app, that file would be gone," Yeh said. "That file would be opened in a separate app, and you'd have no way to save it back to the place where you opened it from, which was Box."
With the new application partners Box is incorporating in OneCloud, the user now will be given the option to save it either in the document application or back in Box's storage cloud. There's no question that Android and iOS-powered mobile devices have changed business computing.
A recent report by Forrester revealed that about 33 percent of devices used by business professionals now are non-Microsoft, and about 25 percent of those devices are mobile. Forrester has predicted that the Windows device market share will fall below 50 percent by 2016.
Box gives all those who sign up in a personal account 5GB of online space free, a standard inducement in this sector. Business users (three or more users per account, free trials available) pay $15 per month for up to 500GB; enterprise users can get unlimited capacity, but they need to talk to Box about pricing.
High-level Uptime Guarantee
The company also claims a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee and offers Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption, available redundant storage and configurable permissions.
The Box OneCloud platform also will include a collection of developer tools for building mobile application integrations with Box, Yeh said. The new Box App to App Integration Framework reduces the amount of timefrom weeks to days, Yeh saidto develop apps with Box by integrating directly to the file management capabilities of Box's mobile platform. The new framework provides access to content stored in Box, including offline access, Yeh said.
Chris Preimesberger is eWEEK Editor for Features and Analysis. Twitter: @editingwhiz