By Barry Levine / CIO Today. Updated April 25, 2012.
Let the cloud wars begin. Following the launch of Google Drive on Tuesday and expanded offerings on Microsoft's SkyDrive on Monday, business-cloud platform and storage provider Box is releasing version 2 of its platform API, and unveiling new application and technology partners.
Fifteen more companies are now application partners for Box's OneCloud, and two entrepreneur support centers in New York City, General Assembly and TechStars, are joining up as well. Box has more than 10 million individual users worldwide, plus more than 120,000 businesses -- including 82 percent of the Fortune 500.
'A Radical Shift'
Box is emphasizing that it is focused on enterprises, while the new Google Drive is oriented toward consumers. Its OneCloud provides a suite of productivity apps, enabling content to be accessed, edited and shared securely from smartphones, tablets and other devices.
Box CEO Aaron Levie said in a statement that "the enterprise technology landscape is experiencing a radical shift toward universal, mobile information access and content sharing." He added that Box's OneCloud platform "sits at the center of this revolution," and has been widely adopted by third-party developers "who are building the next generation of enterprise software."
The new OneCloud API includes streamlined documentation and easier integration through RESTful standards. There's also an Instant Mode feature, making it easier for developers to seamlessly connect their apps to Box's services. Using Instant Mode, access to Box will be available by simply typing in an email address. The company said this means that LinkedIn, for instance, could offer Box storage, even if a given LinkedIn user has not joined Box.
Additionally, the new Box OneCloud App-to-App Framework offers documentation and user interface guidelines.
The new application partners are CloudOn, Breezy, Explain Everything, BlueBeamVu, Handshake, iAnnotate, iDesk, iDocShelf, InBound, LincDoc, Mockups.me, Notability, Producteev, ScrumPad Pro and The Vault. Among other things, the app partners work to make sure that files from their apps can be synced through Box.
When a 'Tidal Wave' Hits
The collaboration with General Assembly and TechStars is intended to facilitate enterprise software innovation, for which mentorship and resources for startups will be offered.
We asked Laura DiDio, an analyst with Information Technology Intelligence Consulting, how the rapidly growing cloud market was shaping up for Box, especially in light of major cloud announcements from Google, Microsoft, and others.
"If you know a tidal wave is going to hit," she said, "you move quickly and get to higher ground." DiDio said that's exactly what Box is doing, as it looks to differentiate itself.
For its part, Box has been saying that the consumer-focused Google Drive is not really its main competitor, because Box is oriented toward creating a collaboration environment for businesses that has a storage component.
DiDio pointed out that the cloud market -- which is quickly moving from storage lockers to platforms with competing apps, levels of collaboration, and other functionality -- is not like the market for device platforms. Device platforms, DiDio said, "can generally support three to four top-tier players," but cloud platforms may be more diverse and numerous.