Thursday, June 14th, 2012

WWDC Partner Talks: CloudOn and the Mobile Productivity Imperative

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Today we’re continuing our series of interviews to celebrate WWDC. Be sure to check back every day for a new discussion with one of our partners about how iOS has affected their business.

There’s no question that devices like the iPad have taken the business world by storm, with many companies in the past two years changing their IT guidelines to let employees bring the devices they love to work. But while the makeup of enterprise hardware is changing, many of the core applications have stayed the same. For many, applications like Microsoft Office and Adobe Reader are still the enterprise standard for creating and editing business documents.

Enter CloudOn, the first mobile productivity app to stream Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader and other applications to your tablet. I recently had a chance to speak with Milind Gadekar, the co-founder and CEO of CloudOn.

IS: What is CloudOn?

MG: CloudOn is the fastest growing productivity app on the iPad. Our mission is to enable mobile productivity by bringing together applications, files and people in an experience that just works. The current version, available on iPad and Android tablets, provides users with a workspace that connects Microsoft Office suite (Word, Powerpoint and Excel) and Adobe Reader with Box and other cloud storage providers (Dropbox and Google Drive). Since launch, CloudOn has consistently been in the Top 10 of Productivity apps on the Apple App Store.

IS: Where did the vision for building CloudOn come from?

MG: It was a few years ago when the idea behind CloudOn was born. At the time, I recall I had a smartphone, a PC, a Mac and a Netbook, and while I loved all those devices by themselves, none of them actually worked together to make me productive. For every device I worked on, I found myself routinely having to deal with different file formats and the lack of powerful applications. This was clearly a poor user experience. Since then, cloud storage services have addressed part of the problem around mobility of files. CloudOn chose to tackle the mobility of applications by enabling users to create, review, edit, save and share information while mobile.

IS: What factors on the technology side, both in terms of hardware and software, made this the ideal time to build a product like CloudOn?

MG: The evolution of elastic public clouds (like Amazon), ubiquitous broadband (WiFi/3G/4G) and application virtualization technology provided us with the perfect storm of technologies for building and delivering a service like CloudOn. But I wouldn’t limit the discussion to just technical feasibility—I believe a lot has to do with the growing appetite of users wanting to be more “productive” on their mobile devices.

IS: Why is it important to integrate cloud content management into a product like CloudOn?

MG: Well it all goes back to the proliferation of data siloes across platforms and devices and how they’ve been an impediment to productivity. When we were building CloudOn, we eschewed those siloes by design. We saw several companies had emerged to offer cloud-based storage services to address the issue of file mobility. To deliver on the full potential of mobile productivity, it was essential for CloudOn to integrate its workspace with these content management systems. The joint solution offers all the rich capabilities of content management coupled with the ability to create, edit and share the documents in a familiar application experience.

IS: What has your experience building on Box OneCloud been like?

MG: Our experience working with Box and developing on the OneCloud platform has been both enjoyable and productive. With a common goal of serving our joint customers with a “it just works” experience, Box and CloudOn worked on integrating their mobile clients to deliver a solution that enables Box users to seamlessly edit Office and PDF documents on tablets, and then save them back into a single, secure environment they’re familiar with.

IS: What’s next for CloudOn?

MG: Since the initial success of CloudOn on the iPad, the product has been extended onto more devices (Android tablets) and delivered to additional geographies (Western Europe). We hope to build on this success by providing our service across all devices (phones, tablets and PCs) and distributing it across the world. We are also looking to extend the workspace by adding more applications users want, additional storage services and new productivity oriented features.