It's been well-chronicled lately that Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft have all been lowering their rates for online storage in a clear-cut price war. While it should be made clear that some levels of its service have increased in cost, AWS has lowered its entry-level storage rates an astounding 43 times in eight years.
Besides the notion that perhaps the pricing was too high for starters back in 2006, now there's a new wrinkle in all of this. Box and Microsoft said July 15 that they are now offering common business customers unlimited cloud storage for the price of subscribing to the Microsoft Office 365 cloud service. The pricing ranges from $5 to $15 per user/month for small, medium and mid-size businesses.
For Box users who are paying $15 a month for a mere 1TB of storage—a deal that is no more—the sky's now the limit. Now they can get Office 365 and the unlimited storage for the same price.
An interesting side angle to this is that Box already has Google's productivity tools on board, including rival Google Docs, Sheets and Slides.
Box, in fact, already had an unlimited storage plan for current customers that cost $35 a month; those folks now will undoubtedly opt for the new, lower-cost plan. Future Box customers will need to buy the Office 365 cloud service to get the unlimited cloud storage.
Cloud Storage Could Hardly Cost Less
For its part in all of this price undercutting, Microsoft last month started offering 15GB of free storage for its OneDrive (which prior to January was called SkyDrive; it was changed for legal reasons) cloud service—three times the 5GB standard of most other providers.
The July 15 news is all about Box and Microsoft trading income from storing data in order to entice customers into looking at other services they offer, such as Box's collaboration tools and the plethora of apps and tools Microsoft now offers online.
Los Altos, Calif.-based Box also revealed July 15 that it is going to better integrate its products to work with Office 365 and Outlook starting this fall. This is good news for Microsoft, which is scrambling to connect with new-gen cloud services providers in a renewed effort to pivot into new 21st-century markets.
While it is still the world's dominant provider of PC operating systems and workplace software applications, Microsoft famously has attempted to gain similar success in other lines of business for years. The company has experienced widely varying degrees of success in businesses such as video game hardware, smartphones, containerized data centers, automobile connectivity and cloud services, among others.
Company Has Bought Plenty of Capacity for Cloud
In the data center sector, the Redmond, Wash.-based company has invested a huge amount of capital in its Windows Azure cloud system in a concerted attempt to catch up with the runaway success of another Pacific Northwest company, Amazon. In fact, eWEEK learned through a Microsoft insider that the company has bought enough extra cloud-related data center hardware to cover 17 football fields—or 979,200 square feet. If each server or array takes up a footprint of three square feet, we're talking about more than 326,000 devices.
Microsoft needs to start firing up all those servers and arrays for new customers, but this is extremely hard to do with Amazon so far out in front in cloud services. According to IT researcher Gartner, Amazon's stranglehold on the Web services market is such that its cloud computing service, AWS, has sold more than five times the combined capacity of the next 14 competitors, including Microsoft.