Teambox Brings Collaboration Behind the Firewall

Teambox On-Premise allows healthcare, financial and other highly regulated industries to take advantage of cloud collaboration technologies.
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For avid tech industry followers, it's hard to go more than a few days without seeing another article about the benefits companies can gain by taking business into the cloud. These benefits, such as the ability to better connect remote or mobile workers, can lead to legitimate gains in an organization's efficiency and bottom line. Nevertheless, cloud resources often demand that sensitive data be housed on an outside party's servers, so many institutions and enterprises are cautious about, if not prohibited from, adopting the new technology.

Teambox believes its newest offering, Teambox On-Premise, can help more businesses climb onto the cloud bandwagon. Released earlier this month, the product brings the capabilities of the Barcelona-based company's cloud platform behind the corporate firewall, allowing users to harness the file-sharing and collaboration advantages of the cloud while still meeting internal security and compliance requirements. The enterprise-oriented cloud market grows more competitive every week, but for organizations in highly regulated industries, Teambox On-Premise could offer the secure ladder into the cloud that they've been looking for.

Some cloud services focus on online storage, but Teambox has cultivated a name for itself by integrating not only hooks to other cloud repositories, such as Google Docs, Dropbox and Box, but also a host of collaboration tools for sharing and working on the stored files.

[ Effective collaboration takes more than just software. Learn 10 Ways To Foster Effective Social Employees. ]

The approach has attracted a variety of customers, including not only brand names such as Square and Groupon but also an impressive list of universities. For certain industries, such as healthcare and financial services, however, Teambox's tools have been, like all cloud products, too risky for broad deployment.

Teambox On-Premise was developed to solve this problem. According to statements made during a recent webinar by David Ovadia, the company's VP of marketing, the new product was created to address the regulatory needs of a few "key customers." Healthcare institutions are bound by HIPAA requirements, publicly traded companies by Sarbanes-Oxley and credit card-processing businesses by PCI, he said, noting that these requirements prohibit data from being stored or moved without robust protections.

Teambox had to let these customers "use their own authentication systems, use their own processes for security, and use their own processes for backing and up maintaining data," Ovadia said. To do so, Teambox On-Premise brings all of the platform's resources, which include not only Yammer-like chat functions and note-taking tools reminiscent of Evernote, but also its APIs and mobile apps, inside an enterprise's existing infrastructure and workflows. Essentially, it's meant to provide the agility and efficiency of a more conventional cloud service without burdening users with the typical security and compliance headaches.

In an interview, Teambox CEO Dan Schoenbaum said the product was essentially a virtual machine that can run on VMware or Oracle hypervisors. "Customers are up and running in less than an hour, with almost no intervention or assistance from us," he stated. "It's designed to be self-service. It's just a VM you drop in."

Despite this simplicity and attention to security, Teambox is not the only company aiming to transition cautious businesses into the cloud. Dell, for example, touted last week how its growing software catalog allows medical organizations such as Green Clinic in Rustin, La., to use HIPAA-compliant cloud tools. Vendors such as Dropbox, meanwhile, are busily working to expand their consumer success farther into the business landscape.

"File storage is gaining traction but it's also becoming more commoditized," Schoenbaum said of this shift toward more specialized and robust cloud functionality. He added that Teambox's strategy is "not to compete with Dropbox and Google Drive but to augment what they do" by "layering on a collection of lightweight apps for collaborating."

For at least one early customer, the strategy boasts obvious appeal. Shawn Stevens, senior IT administrator for GeoEnergy, said in an interview that Teambox On-Premise, which his company adopted a few months prior to the product's general release, has facilitated "big-time changes." The centralized sets of collaboration tools, he stated, is intuitive for "regular users who don't have much experience" and a boon for teamwork.

Just as importantly, Stevens -- who considered alternatives such as Basecamp and Teamwork Project Manager -- also found Teambox On-Premise appropriately secure. "Our company deals with oil companies that like to be very secretive about their stuff, so it was almost a requirement for us to have an on-premises solution," he said.

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