One is a company that practically defined enterprise computing. The other practically defines the modern cloud service company, with millions of customers spanning an array of desktop and mobile consumer devices. And they just announced a relationship they hope will bring the largest enterprises to the cloud computing party with an array of file storage and sharing services -- and the tools to manage them to enterprise standards.
According to an announcement Wednesday, IBM and Box have entered into a "... strategic alliance [that] brings together Box's industry-leading cloud content collaboration platform with IBM Analytics and Social solutions, IBM Security technologies, and the global footprint of the IBM Cloud." That sounds wonderful, but what does it really mean for customers?
[Learn more about IBM's recent cloud moves. See IBM Takes Bluemix To Europe Via Sogeti.]
According to Al Hilwa, program director for software development research at IDC, "I think a lot of these customers are looking for file solutions and mobility of storage in the cloud." With the partnership between the two companies, customers will be able to use the Box mobile apps and software development APIs to store data on IBM's enterprise cloud. For many customers, it will bring the convenience of consumer apps and the security of a private, enterprise cloud together in a compelling feature set.
In addition to the basics of file storage and sharing, IBM is adding enterprise security and analytics to the product suite. For many enterprise customers, especially those that exist under specific legal and regulatory requirements for data privacy and security, the IBM suite (and the fact that customers can enjoy a degree of data localization not available to consumers in the original Box offering) means that they can explore Box as an option in ways that weren't possible before the partnership.
Box brings extensive experience and capabilities in the iOS world to the IBM universe, allowing IBM to more easily integrate its cloud capabilities into the iOS software that it's developing under a previously announced partnership with Apple.
Hilwa said that each company is hoping to expand its customer base through the partnership. "The partnership is very broad, but IBM is definitely going after the sort of customer it wouldn't reach otherwise and Box is going after the IBM customer. It's about reaching outside the base of both companies," he said.
The partnership seems designed to bring more cloud customers under the IBM umbrella, Hilwa said. "IBM is interested in a land-grab for more cloud workload. This is going on in the industry in general," Hilwa explained. Even so, both IBM and its customers simply must get comfortable with a multi-cloud landscape, Hilwa said. "I think, first of all, most companies are going to end up with more than one cloud provider. Depending on what kind of software they're using, they might use an ISV package provided by the vendor and run on any backend," he said. "Those companies like IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft are scaling to be broad providers and partnering with a lot of companies to bring a lot of services to their cloud."
Box brings an existing app environment and experience with mobile devices. IBM brings a global cloud infrastructure that can tout extensive security, management, and analytics in its functional suite. It seems likely that each side hopes the other also brings its sizable user base to a unified party in the enterprise cloud.
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