Box unveils cloud service for workplace mobile apps

Called OneCloud, the service is now available for iPhones and iPads

Box, a provider of cloud-hosted enterprise collaboration and content management software, will announce on Wednesday a new service designed to consolidate in a single repository companies' mobile applications and the data they generate.

Called OneCloud, the new Box cloud service is designed to help IT departments better manage the mobile applications that their end users install on their tablets and PCs and use for work, as well as the data and documents they create.

By using OneCloud as the central console and storage service for these applications and their content, companies can avoid the "silos" of data that are created when employees' mobile applications aren't linked in this manner, said Matthew Self, vice president of platform engineering at Box.

By storing documents in OneCloud, employees will be able to share them with each other and collaborate, while IT departments gain administration and management control over the stack of mobile applications available to their end users.

Initially, OneCloud will work with iPhones and iPads, and later it will support Android devices as well. At launch, OneCloud's mobile application gallery will feature about 30 applications from partner vendors, including Quickoffice, Mindjet, Adobe's EchoSign and Brainshark's SlideShark.

OneCloud also comes with developer tools, so that third-party developers can integrate their applications with the Box platform.

Box's collaboration and content management software is currently used by about 10 million end users in about 120,000 companies, including 82 percent of the Fortune 500, Self said.

Now with OneCloud, Box becomes the front-end interface where users can create, edit and share files via tight integration with dozens of partner applications, according to Alan Lepofsky, an analyst with Constellation Research.

"Today's announcement helps further differentiate Box from other 'simple file sharing' vendors, as Box is no longer just a back-end for storing and synchronizing files," Lepofsky said via e-mail.

OneCloud, however, requires a change in mindset among users whose first thought is to just "store" files in Box, he said. "Now you can perform dozens of actions -- via launching partner applications -- right from within Box itself," he said.

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

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