Dropbox aims for enterprise with new team and IT admin features

Dropbox hopes more granular controls of who can access what data stored in the cloud will appeal to enterprise customers

dropbox team folder

Continuing its effort to better appeal to enterprise users, Dropbox Wednesday announced new features aimed at making its cloud-based storage and collaboration platform easier for teams of workers to use and IT administrators to centrally control.

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Dropbox was one of the pioneers of the cloud computing market, beginning in 2007 as a consumer-oriented storage service with a simple user interface and automatic synchronization across devices. In 2013 the company launched Dropbox Business, it’s foray into the business market. Two years later Dropbox introduced its Enterprise edition. In the past few years Dropbox has hired an entire enterprise sales team and has devoted a portion of its engineering team to build products specifically for the enterprise market. The fruits of that work were announced today.

New tools make it easier for groups of users – dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of them – to use the platform for sharing documents, accessing information and collaborating with others. Another key to these advancements is giving IT administrators a new console for centrally managing these enterprise-wide deployments of Dropbox. New features include:

  • New Team Folder: A shared folder, including subfolders, for a group of users. The HR department can have one folder, while marketing and IT can have another, along with subfolders.
  • Granular permissions: Allows IT to centrally control which users have access to which folders and data.
  • Synch settings: Allow IT admins to centrally control which data is synched to which users (When new employees are on-boarded, they only get the data they need, for example)
  • Granular logging of event: IT admins can centrally view all changes made to any file
  • New GUI for IT admins

For some customers, these changes have been a long time coming. Silicon Labs is a 1,200-person semi-conductor company headquartered in Austin with offices in Singapore. CIO Everett Plante says the company was an early adopter of Dropbox for Business to store and share non-sensitive company documents. “With Team folders, we’re looking to migrate more and more of our traditional on-premises file storage into the Dropbox cloud,” he says.

dropbox by the numbers Dropbox

Dropbox’s main advantages for Silicon Labs is that its global employees can all access the service from wherever they are; the existing on-premises storage platform requires a VPN and strong network connection while Dropbox comes with an intuitive app. Plante experimented with other platforms, namely Microsoft’s Office 365 and OneDrive, but he says his team prefers the straightforward UI and experience of Dropbox. “It’s just drop dead simple,” he says.

Plante’s not ready to go all in on the cloud. Silicon Labs is not using Dropbox for sensitive data that’s core to the company’s intellectual property. Instead, it uses Dropbox mostly for documents, spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations.

With the team and IT admin functionality announced today, Plante hopes to move even more of the company’s data into Dropbox, further reducing the need for on-premises storage.

Dropbox says it already has business agreements with just over half of the Fortune 500 companies, and its recently announced customers include The Washington Post, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, NewsCorp and Arizona State University.

Dropbox Business plans start at $15 per user per month; enterprise plans are priced on a case-by-case basis. Some of the new features are available now while others will be rolled out throughout this year.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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