Microsoft, Box Partner on Cloud Content Management and Collaboration

The latest collaboration brings Box's content management capabilities to Microsoft's cloud productivity and collaboration ecosystem.

Microsoft Azure

Box Using Azure, an offering that combines the content management capabilities of the business-friendly Box platform with Microsoft cloud storage, is now available.

It's not the first time Microsoft and Box have teamed up in the cloud collaboration space. In 2016, the two companies unveiled a set of integrations that allow users to save their Office files directly to their Box accounts using Microsoft's native apps for Android and preview Excel files without launching the spreadsheet software.

This time, the companies are focused on helping their joint customers securely manage their enterprise content using Office 365 and other SaaS (software-as-a-service) applications. The integration will also allow organizations to add Box's content management capabilities to their custom applications.

Some AI-enabled services are also in the works.

Sanjay Manchanda, vice president and general manager of Box, teased some upcoming capabilities powered by Microsoft Cognitive Services, saying they will "enable customers to automatically identify and categorize content, trigger workflows and tasks and make content more discoverable for users," in his Nov. 20 announcement.

It's not the first time Box has dabbled in AI.

The company introduced three Box Skills, tools that allow customers to derive more insights from their content. The initial Box Skills cover image, audio and video files, extracting and contextualizing information within each and improving their searchability.

Box also plans to use "Azure's broad global footprint to meet data sovereignty requirements and ensure compliance with industry regulations or corporate policies," added Manchanda.

Of course, Microsoft isn't the only major cloud provider that Box calls a partner.

In April 2016, the company announced Box Zones, a solution that uses AWS (Amazon Web Services) and IBM Cloud data centers sprinkled across the globe. With Box Zones, businesses can simultaneously centralize their content and address the local regulations regarding data storage.

"With Box Zones, we're partnering with two world-class global companies, IBM and Amazon, to provide our customers with storage infrastructure at unparalleled reach and scale," blogged CEO Aaron Levie at the time.  The Box Zones announcement also marked the first publicized business deal between AWS and Box. (Amazon had been providing Box with redundant-copy storage in quiet for years.)

In addition to forging cloud partnerships, Box has been making an ambitious move to disrupt the conventional storage market.

On June 14, the company released Box Drive, a free desktop application that provides access to the company's cloud storage. Rather than manage files individually using the company's website, users can now use the software to accomplish file-related tasks on Box's cloud just as they would with Windows Explorer or Mac Finder.

Apart from the sheer convenience offered by the application, it inherits Box's enterprise compliance, data governance and security capabilities, addressing the concerns of businesses that may be leery about entrusting Box cloud storage their sensitive files. Levie boldly told eWEEK's Chris Preimesberger that Box Drive signaled "the beginning of the end for expensive network file shares."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...