A new global partnership announced Wednesday by IBM and Box promises to put a powerful combination of cloud computing capabilities into the hands of enterprise IT managers.
It also signals recognition by both companies that the respective strengths of traditional IT providers and agile startups may still not be enough stay ahead of customer demands as enterprise move more of their IT operations to the cloud.
The partnership, which Box Inc. CEO and co-founder Aaron Levie said “represents the work of hundreds of individuals over the past nine months,” gives IBM access to Box’s growing base of enterprise customers who have turned to Box to streamline the process of sharing corporate information. Levie, in an interview with FedScoop published last month, said that number has climbed to 45,000 enterprises that host content on Box’s platform, including 40 federal agencies.
For Los Altos, California-based Box, the partnership adds a robust set of enterprise and content management tools that support large-scale data capture, extraction, analytics and case management.
It also will allow Box customers to store files on IBM’s SoftLayer cloud platform across the globe. IBM said it has more than 40 data centers in 17 countries, giving international customers the ability to store data locally to meet varying national requirements.
The arrangement also promises Box users access to IBM’s high-profile supercomputing platform, Watson Analytics, and the ability to more deeply analyze content stored in Box.
It also expands the company’s enterprise security offerings with IBM’s security technologies, according to a joint statement. Those capabilities include threat detection, anomaly identification, mobile device management and identity protection.
Additionally, IBM and Box said they plan to jointly develop mobile apps that incorporate Box technology into IBM MobileFirst apps designed to work on Apple Inc.’s iPhones and iPads.
“We’re taking the best of Box’s technology and combining it with IBM’s impressive portfolio of leading security, analytics, content management, and social capabilities to jointly create all new offerings and outcomes for customers,” Levie said in a blog post.
“And for the first time, Box is going to let customers choose a partner’s cloud platform for their data storage, which will enable existing IBM customers or enterprises in key international markets to store their data locally in-region,” he said.
Bob Picciano, senior vice president of IBM Analytics, said the impact of the partnership “will be felt by experts and professionals in industries such as health care, financial services, law and engineering who are overwhelmed by today’s digital data and seek better solutions to manage large volumes of information more intelligently and securely.”
The companies suggested how health care providers might benefit from the partnership, by streamlining the ability for hospitals to share test results with patients securely, while maintaining a formal review with the physicians and nurses coordinating patient care.
But the partnership also hints at the growing stakes for companies eager to stay in the global race for cloud computing services as Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp., Google Inc., Oracle Corp. and others continue to invest heavily in cloud services.
The announcement is the latest in a string of moves Box has taken to bolster its position in the market.
Last week, Box announced it had struck an arrangement with Microsoft that would allow Box customers more fully integrated access to Microsoft Office 365 for the desktop, Office on IOS and Outlook.
The company’s agile development approach is also gaining attention within federal agencies, thanks in part to addition of Sonny Hashmi, former General Services Administration chief information officer, who joined the company in March. The Justice Department awarded Box a contract in May to bring the agency’s suite of file sharing and information management tools to all of its 59 bureaus and offices. Box’s federal customers include the departments of State, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture and the company is currently seeking security approval to provide cloud services to the Defense Information Systems Agency.