Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Google’s Campfire One: A Good First Step

By

I just got back from Google Campfire One where they announced the Google Apps Marketplace, and we’re very excited that Box is a featured service. Overall, the event was great – I got to see many of my press friends such as Anthony Ha, David Needle and Robert Scoble, as well as catch up with old Google friends like Dave Girouard and David Glazer.

The goal of the event was clearly to excite developers in hopes of generating more Marketplace Apps, which explains the program’s heavy focus on the “how” of developing an App. And partner demonstrations – specifically those from Atlassian and Appirio – really underscored the benefit of using Google APIs to their fullest from a developer perspective.

I was struck, however, that by focusing on developers, Google missed a big opportunity to start a conversation about the future of Enterprise software. To me, the most exciting part of this Marketplace is not that companies like ours can get in front of Google Apps’ 2 million businesses (although that’s certainly welcome), but rather that it paves the way for broader Enterprise adoption of the Cloud. As individual companies offering silo-ed solutions, cloud vendors – including Google – have had trouble getting businesses to take them seriously. Perhaps one component of a particular business will be moved to the Cloud – like email – but it’s not a full-scale adoption of cloud technology. When all of these Cloud applications are able to easily integrate with each other, it expands the functionality that every vendor can currently offer. For example, with its Google Apps integration, Box.net can now sell a full Microsoft stack replacement in a one-two punch to Microsoft: Google Apps replaces Microsoft Exchange and Box.net replaces Microsoft SharePoint.

Furthermore, by connecting clouds we allow for a steady, organic stream of adoption. One app being introduced inside an organization leads the way to the next, and so on. At Box.net, we often see our solution brought into a company by an individual, after which it spreads naturally from to department-wide usage to full company deployment. This same effect should benefit cloud vendors if we all invite integrations and keep our platforms open – like Box.net and Salesforce.com have done and Google has started to do. Working together, we can start an tornado of cloud adoption that literally changes the very nature of Enterprise software.

So after an enjoyable evening with S’more tarts, mini-burgers and a cute Campfire blanket I got to keep, I still want to get all of these cloud companies together – again – to start that conversation. Changing how enterprises use software is not a task that any one company can take on alone. The software giants – like Microsoft, IBM and Cisco – are, well, big and want to stay that way. But together, cloud companies have a huge opportunity to do something extraordinary and change the way people and business think and interact with technology.

Post By Jen Grant, VP of Marketing

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  • Viking

    This is an intriguing connection. I’m a big fan of Box. I’m not sure how this teaming together will look to me, the user. Will I have to log in to both to use? Does that require two separate passwords? If Google has the doc app, as an example, where does Box’s app selections fit in? My experience with online word processors is that one doc app will look great with my resume, and when I open that doc with my offline app it’s not formatted as it was with the online one.

    I’m thinking specically with Zoho and Word. As you know, Zoho also team with Google. I also have this issue with several others. Based on the law of substitutions in math, I wonder…

    If I create a doc in zoho, store it in Box, and then push it to G-docs, will there need to be a proof-read step and a fix?

    I ask only to understand the direction this team-up will go.

    Either way, Box is a great service.

    • http://www.box.net Sean

      Great question! We’ve tried to make this integration as seamless as possible, and a big piece of that is single sign-on for Box.net and Google Apps users. Once you turn on the connection between the two services (which can be done via the Box.net listing on the Google Apps Marketplace), you won’t have to worry about logging on to each service individually.

      As for document formatting, we focus more on providing a platform to share, collaborate and access content than the document editing side (which Google Docs and Zoho tackle). However, when you store a file on Box, you don’t have to worry about that document being corrupted in any way when it is shared or downloaded.

      We’re happy to have you as a Box user – please keep the questions coming!

  • Viking

    Hey Sean – For me, the turn around time on Q&A is a big measure of the seriousness of an online business. Obviously you folks are serious. Thanks for the quick response.

    Very good about the log in, and the doc movement. I want to stress, I didn’t mean to imply that the doc’s movement would, or might, corrupt the data. And certainly not that Box would be the cause of it. I never looked at it that way, and I suppose that’s why I was not so clear.

    I was thinking more of the migration of the formatting characters. Sometimes when I a create a doc with one online proc, then save it locally, and open it with another, the formatting is different, as though one doc app did not use, or include, a hidden character command, like spacing and line height. Doing this, I would create and save the doc as a Word Doc file format, and open with another Word Doc format reader. But something was lost along the way.

    I now understand the distinction, that Box is best at this, and others are best at that, and the user gets the best of both. And when looking deeper, I do see the separation of labor your teaming creates. And it looks like I overlooked a few of your offerings, like the link to Zoho for editing. I suppose that reveals my view of Box. It’s capable.

    I look at the Box solution as a hard drive with benefits…more than just a storage point.

    So then, are there plans to rename or rebrand the services offered, like…

    Box with partners…Box & Friends
    Box & Zoho………..Bozoho
    Box & Google…….Boogle
    -or-
    GooBox, Zox? …just having some fun here.

    No one’s ever accused me of being a marketeer.

    Thanks again for the response, Sean.

    • http://www.box.net Sean

      Hah – great suggestions! For now, we’re sticking with OpenBox as a way to refer to the many integrations on our platform. But I think you’ve hit on a few unofficial nicknames with potential.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments and interest in how Box works. Keep em coming!

  • http://edanto.com Eoin Ryan

    It’s a great time to be involved in cloud enterprise solutions, and frankly those that focus on client software for the office must be quaking in their boots.

    I look forward to whatever comes of Jen’s push to engage cloud vendors in keeping standards open and inviting integration.

    For us, the cloud offerings in relation to document editing and formatting are very weak compared with the main standalone product and we look forward to the cloud catching up. We are moving as much of our business as practical into the cloud.

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