Box, Salesforce form powerful cloud partnership

Gives SFDC integrated cloud content management

A couple of weeks after Salesforce teamed up with Oracle in a case of the technology world odd couple, this week Salesforce and Box announced a partnership, one that makes a lot more sense, at least on its face.

The Box tool will be available as a download in the AppExchange marketplace.

In a blog post on the Box website announcing the deal, Box CEO Aaron Levie explained that they are using Box Embed technology to embed the entire Box experience inside, giving SFDC a content management layer it had been lacking.

What Box would get is access to the broad SFDC customer base and another way into companies through sales departments using Box and SFDC.

As Levie writes, the entire Box functionality, including collaboration and document management tools, are built into the Salesforce record giving SFDC users the full usage of the program and all that entails.

Dan Keldsen, principal consultant at Information Architected, calls the partnership the dance of the elephant and the startup and says "This is exactly the kind of integration that users want, and that has often stymied traditional ECM implementations."

Keldsen says users are sick of going to multiple systems to do their jobs and this kind of "distributed convergence" is exactly what employees need. "Users don't want ECM, they want smarter content and processes in their role, for example, in sales proposal management, and they want it exactly where they live and breathe as they are doing their job, not spread across five different environments," he told me.

Interestingly, this is not the first time that SFDC has attempted content management. Back in 2007, it purchased Koral, a small British content management startup. Shortly thereafter, Salesforce launched Salesforce Content, which was supposedly going to make it a serious content management player.

As Eprhaim Schwartz wrote at the time, "'s announcement that it will offer content management and content collaboration as one of its services raises some interesting questions."

That it did, but nothing much ever came of it. Now, Salesforce is trying again, this time with a cloud partner with some name recognition instead of a tiny startup plucked from its AppExchange.

There is surely a case for content management and collaboration services in SFDC, but for some reason, the earlier attempt never really went anywhere.

As with Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) and Salesforce, this is a complicated relationship, but when each company feels like it can walk away with something, deals like this happen. As Keldsen told me, "Where the Box/Salesforce relationship goes is anybody's guess, but the future of enterprise systems, is exactly what this move indicates--death to silos, and a drive to contextual integration."

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