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Dropbox For Business Adds Active Directory Ties

Hoping to land bigger fish, cloud file storage leader rolls out Dropbox for Business, with security tweaks for enterprises.

Debra Donston-Miller

April 10, 2013

4 Min Read

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When people talk about the consumerization of IT, Dropbox is invariably part of the discussion. Dropbox -- like Box, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive and others -- is a cloud-based storage system that enables users to sync and share files. This can and often is done without IT intervention, potentially putting sensitive data at risk or organizations out of compliance.

Dropbox has been adding features designed to give companies more control over what their users do with Dropbox, and Wednesday it announced new capabilities, along with a rebranding, with an eye toward business.

Dropbox claims that is in 95% of the Fortune 500 companies and in 2 million unique businesses. In an effort to leverage existing authentication infrastructure, Dropbox will now add single sign-on (SSO) capabilities to its Active Directory integration and is working with several partners to ease that integration.

"Active Directory is really core to IT architectures, security and compliance strategies," said Kevin Egan, VP of sales, in an interview with InformationWeek. "It lies at the heart of security, so we're going to make it a lot easier for customers to plug in to their existing Active Directory infrastructures, and leverage things like secure sign-on."

[ Dropbox can be a great educational tool, too. Read Dropbox In The Classroom: 4 Great Uses. ]

Tido Carriero, engineering lead, explained in an interview that the integration with Active Directory will let companies use the work they have already done in setting security and authentication policy. This helps end users and admins alike, he said.

"It's good for the end user not to have another password to remember -- they can just use what they're familiar with. And sometimes it can be in an automatic fashion if that's how the admin has set up the system," Carriero said. "Admins can set up security policies depending on the nature of the data being stored, and they can do things like set password requirements, reset passwords as often as they'd like, set up two-factor authentication, set up other kinds of authentication -- whatever they have decided on for their business."

According to Egan and Carriero, Dropbox will provide SSO out of the box via a variety of partners, including Ping Identity, Okta, OneLogin, Centrify and Symplified. Dropbox SSO uses the industry-standard Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML), so it will also integrate with any large identity provider companies are using or with companies' own SAML-based federated authentication systems.

With this continued focus on business users and entire companies, as opposed to teams of workers, Dropbox is also doing some rebranding.

"With all the changes we're making to create a Dropbox that's better for companies both large and small, it's become clear that the name 'Dropbox for Teams' doesn't quite fit anymore," said product manager Anand Subramani in a blog post. "To better rep the features we're building and the awesome companies that use Dropbox to create, share and save their most important work, we realize the time has come to rename to Dropbox for Business."

Of course, Dropbox has some pretty stiff competition in the cloud-based storage space, including no less than Google and Microsoft. But the SSO integration with Active Directory is an important step forward in making Dropbox a corporate tool, and not just a tool for consumers.

Is Dropbox used in your organization? Will the new AD integration change your take on it? Please let us know in the comments section below.

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.

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About the Author(s)

Debra Donston-Miller


Freelance writer Debra Donston-Miller was previously editor of eWEEK and executive editorial manager of eWEEK Labs. She can be reached at [email protected].

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