The enterprise file syncing war is heating up

Last month Box rolled out an Android product that makes it easy to share and collaborate from Android phones and tablets.

[We're going to have several articles over the next few days that cover file synchronization, mobile data management, Dropbox, and Dropbox alternatives. This article is the first of four. -Jack]

Two of the most popular Internet file-sharing services are continuing to push their way through the door of big businesses.

Last month Box rolled out an Android product that makes it easy to share and collaborate from Android phones and tablets. Box also offered 50 GB of free space for anyone who downloads the latest version of the app by March 23. 

Not content to simply beef up its mobile offering, Box unveiled a slew of new security partnerships and granular security enhancements to the Box Administrator Console, specifically to its reporting feature. The intention is to provide enterprise organizations better visibility and management of user accounts.

There are more than 9 million Box users, with 500,000 joining each month, the company claims. Perhaps, most remarkably, they also claim 82% of Fortune 500 companies are Box customers.

YouSendIt, which has 28 million users and 550,000 of them as paid subscribers, has also been courting the enterprise niche like it was a prom queen. The company differentiates themselves from other companies by integrating their services into existing IT infrastructure and applications. 

This week, YouSendIt launched  Workstream, a file sharing platform for businesses offering deeper integration with Microsoft SharePoint through a plug-in. It’s not too dissimilar from their existing Exchange plug-in, helping users share content and large files beyond the corporate firewall and across mobile devices, desktops and the web.

Workstream integrates with Microsoft Active Directory to provision and de-provision users, provides robust policy settings for white and black listing domains from file sharing, enforces encryption on mobile devices and provides policies such as mobile application passcode enforcement and remote wipe of application data.

YouSendIt doesn’t want to replace Sharepoint, like Box does. Instead, their business strategy is to make existing IT infrastructure work better.  

Neither of these new enterprise offerings are game changers. Perhaps, the better story here is how two companies with consumer products have eschewed the consumer market and are strongly courting enterprises instead. Given how important information management and security is quickly becoming with the rise of mobile devices, and work from anywhere and anytime initiatives, it’s nice to see enterprise cloud file-sharing services take security and business needs seriously.

Perhaps, going after businesses makes sense, given that as of November 2011, Dropbox had more than 50 million users and has been dominating the consumer cloud-based file syncing market. Perhaps more impressive than the user base numbers is that Dropbox’s revenue hit $240 million in 2011 despite the fact that 96% of those users pay nothing. 

To say that Dropbox is becoming a runaway train in the space is an understatement. Still, there’s the lagging problem of data security, which isn’t great. So much so, that AppSense felt compelled to build a data encryption app specifically for Dropbox as its first offering from its Labs initiative.

Clearly, Box and YouSendIt see the enterprise market as a beachhead or end-around into Dropbox’s growing consumer dominance.  What do you think? Is the enterprise focus by these companies a solid plan for businesses and consumers alike?

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