Box.net announces Salesforce Chatter integration and Salesforce funding

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Box.net held its first Boxworks user conference this week. It was like a coming out party for the growing cloud computing company. They made a splash by giving away a Motorola Xoom to every attendant, but the real news was a new cash infusion by Salesforce.com and a deal with Salesforce to integrate Box content in Salesforce Chatter.

Unfortunately details about the funding were scarce and Ashley Mayer, Box spokesperson, said they weren't really prepared at this time to provide any additional information on the amount or timing of the funding.

As for the integration with Salesforce Chatter, this is a big step as Box teams up with one of the giants of cloud computing around enterprise social computing. Chatter will be able to access Box content from within the Salesforce application.

Analyst Dan Keldsen, president of Information Architected, says the details were thin, but it's a partnership that makes sense. "The synergy between Box and Salesforce is apparent--strengths in the cloud, strengths in addiction of users/businesses to the services, strengths in building a platform that competitors and partners alike want to be a part of," Keldsen said.

But Keldsen believes that perhaps by investing in Box, Salesforce might be moving from its historical focus on larger screen devices to the smaller mobile screen where much of the action will be moving forward.

"If I were a betting man, my take is that Salesforce's investment is in Box as their mobile and UX skill-base, because the attention to detail that Box puts into UX for mobile or even desktop 'micro-apps' is orders of magnitude greater than Salesforce," said Keldsen.

Meanwhile, Box also announced it was adding security features including a trusted access feature that tracks browsers, applications and devices connected to the Box system. It's also introducing trusted sharing controls to help customers decide who can see what content based on security levels.

Analyst Alan Pelz-Sharpe, of Real Story Group, says these and other announced enhancements make a lot of sense. "Announcements beefing up security (cloud's key perceived weakness) and adding more and more collaboration functions are to be expected," he said.

He added, "Most SharePoint deployments are about basic file sharing, storage and collaboration rather than hard core ECM (aka process management) so why not promote the likes of Box as low cost but very functional alternatives you can integrate with? SharePoint is a threat or at the least a perceived threat to big ECM/Data Management players, Box is not."

At least not yet anyway. If Box keeps growing as it has been, it might become a threat sooner than these companies expect.

For more information:
- see the Box press release

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