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New Box.net CMS Release Leverages Cloud, Partnerships

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Posted January 20, 2011 By David Needle     Feedback

The new version of the cloud-based content management and collaboration system includes several new features designed to appeal to enterprise users and a new user interface.

PALO ALTO, Calif — Box.net unveiled a redesign of its cloud-based content management (CMS) and collaboration system at a press event here today at company headquarters. The new interface, features and partnership announcements with NetSuite, Samsung and VMware are all part of the company's strategy to win over more enterprise customers.

"This is an all new version of Box, remade for the enterprise, enabling a new set of workflows and features," Box CEO Aaron Levie said in opening remarks.

Storage in the free version of Box has been upgraded to five gigabytes (up from one) and is unlimited for enterprise users of the paid version.

Box has also increased the viewing area for content by 30 percent, added real-time updates of content including new comments, edits or deletions of a document. Updates are also ranked and collated to present the user with the most important information. Another improvement is a simplified administrative console designed to improve readability and organization.

Overall, Box said it has developed a much more scalable framework for its user interface that makes it easier to roll out new features. "We reduced the amount of UI code by a factor of 100," David Lee, director of product management, said in a blog post.

Box promoted today's event on the giant billboard on highway 101 in Silicon Valley where it usually promotes Box as a better alternative to Microsoft's SharePoint. Levie touched briefly on that theme.

"There is too much SharePoint, it's not how people want to work today," he said. "The problem (with a lot of enterprise software) is that it's slow, there are three year product cycles, it's too complex and a lot of the solutions are designed for IT, not users."

That said, Levie was careful to add that "the only way to sell to enterprises is to meet the needs of IT. He then noted encryption and other features Box is implementing and said Box would be talking about more features designed for IT later this year.

VMware's 'Project Horizon'

Another Microsoft competitor, VMware, was on hand to announce a partnership with Box. Noah Wasmer, a director of product management at VMware, previewed a cloud-based management system the virtualization kingpin is working on, codenamed Project Horizon, that aims to move traditional IT infrastructure to the cloud.

In the demo, Wasmer showed secure access to active directory, logging into a cloud based system designed to let users access new services like Box with a few clicks rather than a complex authorization process. Administrators can use the system to easily provision or de-provision access as new employees join a company or when others depart.

Tablets and other mobile devices

In addition to a redesigned front end and better integration with legacy enterprise software, Levie said Box is now better suited for mobile devices, particularly the emerging new class of tablet devices. He said Box has had over 250,000 downloads onto iOS devices (iPhone and iPad) and, more recently, over 70,000 downloads on Android tablets in the last quarter.

"We think these new tablets will be a catalyst for cloud computing because it's a new kind of mobile experience," said Levie.

Samsung was on hand to tout support for Box on its new Galaxy Tab tablet.

Tim Wagner, vice president of enterprise sales at Samsung, said Box will help make the Tab "fundamentally very strong for the enterprise" because it gives users the ability to access all their documents on the tablet device wherever they are. "My laptop weighs seven pounds," said Wagner. "I left it at home for the first time in 15 years on a recent trip because now all that data I need is on Box."

Netsuite was another Box partner on hand. COO Jim McGeever said Box will help his company's efforts to win over more users of Microsoft's Great Plains accounting software.

"We have the same business model as Box; our goal is move everyone's applications to the cloud," said McGeever.

Box said the new version would be available to some users starting today as part of a staggered release over the next 30 days.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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