Newcomer Bitrix24 has summoned up a bit of gumption in declaring March 21 that it is taking on such established storage opponents as Box, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox and Google Drive with its new social network-like collaboration service.
The 3-year-old cloud CRM company has released a new enterprise desktop app that connects directly to Bitrix24’s online collaboration network, adding synchronization for employees’ work files.
Bitrix24.com is a cloud-based social intranet service that offers a list of tools (user profiles, directory, tasks, internal messaging, calendars, activity stream, document management) behind a freemium model. A key attraction: As many as 12 users inside a company can use the product for free.
If a customer wants to obtain service for more than 12 people, the cost moves to $99 per month for an unlimited number of users and 50GB of capacity. The $99 monthly fee also provides an additional extranet for companies to add outside partners and contractors to the network.
Using Bitrix24, small and large teams in any location can work together smoothly because all data, metadata and internal communications are gathered in a single place. Access permissions are precise and easy to assign; there is no limit on the number of groups, administrative users or document libraries available.
“We are currently the only online storage and file-sharing service that has a free plan with group and company drives. Box, OneDrive, Dropbox and Google Drive all charge for the privilege or don’t offer the option,” Bitrix President Dmitry Valyanov said.
“We do not restrict our users in what tools they use for document editing; they can use either MS Office installed on their PC, or MS Office Online, or Google Docs. Obviously, that alone is not enough to compete with these giants; that’s why we decided to add communication and collaboration tools inside the app, as well.”
Bitrix24’s desktop app also makes it possible to send instant messages to co-workers, participate in group chats, and make telephone and video calls, as well as have videoconferences with other users inside the company.
“A lot of companies use Dropbox for file sharing, Google Docs for document editing, Skype for calling and WhatsApp for instant messaging,” Valyanov said. “This is inconvenient, not to mention expensive. The fact that Bitrix24 app does it all and more, and is free for up to 12 users,, appeals to a lot of small businesses, especially because Bitrix24 uses encryption and can be installed either on your own server or used in cloud.”
The March 2014 update also includes a number of other Bitrix24 service enhancements, such as call history and bill itemization for telephony, the ability to specify relay phone number, floating window for video calls made from the desktop app, and CRM duplicate entry search. Mobile app for Bitrix24 has been updated, as well.
Bitrix24’s U.S. office is in Alexandria, Va., with development teams in Eastern Europe. The apps are available for Mac, PC, iOS and Android, and can be downloaded here.