Box lifts storage limit on Business edition, integrates service with Office

Customers on the Box Business plan got 1TB of storage to be shared among their users, but the company is removing that cap

Box has integrated its cloud storage and file share service with Microsoft's Office productivity apps suite

Box has integrated its cloud storage and file share service with Microsoft's Office productivity apps suite

Box has integrated its cloud storage and file share service with Microsoft's Office productivity apps suite, and will offer unlimited capacity to customers of its Business edition, as the company waits for the right time to go public.

The online storage provider already offers unlimited storage with its Enterprise plan, which costs US$35 per user/month, but the capacity was capped at 1TB for the Business edition, which costs $15 per user/month.

That 1TB of storage had to be shared among the users in the Business account, and this was a problem for customers who want to roll out Box at a large, company-wide scale using the plan.

"Enterprises shouldn't worry about storage when using Box," said CEO Aaron Levie.

The Enterprise and Business editions offer storage and file sync and sharing with the same level of business-grade security, but the Enterprise plan has a set of IT management controls that the Business plan lacks.

Still, there are Box customers that roll out the service to 10,000 employees and more using the Business plan, according to Levie.

Google, Microsoft and other enterprise cloud storage and file share providers have been dropping prices and increasing capacity as well, so the move can be seen as a competitive must for Box.

Microsoft increased the per-user storage of OneDrive for Business from 25GB to 1TB. The increase applied to the stand-alone version of OneDrive for Business, which costs $5 per user/month with the free Office Online, and to OneDrive for Business bundled with the workplace versions of Office 365, which range in price from a free edition for schools to the $22 per user/month Enterprise E4 edition.

Meanwhile, Google recently introduced a new version of Google Apps for Business called Drive for Work, which includes unlimited Google Drive storage at $10 per user/month.

So while cloud storage has become a commodity, Box understands it needs to focus on helping its customers make efficient use of that data. "Its no longer about how much you can store, but what you can do with your content," Levie said.

Its service is already integrated with many third-party systems like Salesforce.com's CRM suite, NetSuite enterprise applications and GoodData's business intelligence cloud software, so that users of those products can use Box to store and share their data.

Now Box is adding integration with the Office 365 productivity suite, so that users will be able to open, edit, share and save files from Box within Word, PowerPoint, Excel and other applications. There is also integration with Outlook, so that users can share links to files stored in Box and turn document attachments into Box links within the Outlook interface.

The Office and Outlook integrations will debut in beta mode in the fall. Work is also underway to integrate Box with Office Online, the lightweight, Web-based version of Office, and with the cloud versions of the SharePoint, Lync and Exchange servers. The integrations will be available at no additional cost to Business and Enterprise edition customers.

Asked about the company's plans to go public, Levie said Box is waiting for the right time to launch its IPO (initial public offering). "We'll do it when the market is ready," he said. In the meantime, the company just closed a funding round that injected $150 million into its coffers.

Based in Los Altos, California, Box has about 1,000 employees and closed its fiscal year on Jan. 31 with revenue of $124.2 million, up 111 percent year-over-year, and a net loss of $168.6 million, compared with a net loss of $112.6 million in the previous year. In its IPO registration statement, filed in March with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it doesn't expect to turn a profit in the foreseeable future.

It has about 34,000 paying corporate customers, 40 percent of them Fortune 500 companies. However, only 7 percent of its 25 million end users pay for the service. The paying customers include GE, which announced in May its plans to roll out Box to its 300,000 employees worldwide.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
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