I’ve been covering the broader enterprise file sharing space for years now. Companies like Box, Dropbox, Egnyte, Syncplicity and others, as well as offerings from platform players like Microsoft (OneDrive) Google (Drive) and more, are all grist for the Enterprise File Sharing and Sync (EFSS) mill. It’s a highly competitive space and an interesting one to watch.

One easy way of classifying the different vendors is by those who are “all in” on the public cloud and only store there (Box, Google, and Dropbox, for example) versus those who have more of a hybrid story (Egnyte being the exemplar.)

That classification has a potential new twist with recent news that Microsoft, once the butt of Box’s tee-shirt jokes (Box famously gave away “SharePoo” tee shirts as a dig at Microsoft’s vaguely competing SharePoint offering) has signed a partnership with the now publicly listed EFSS company to offer the Box product on the Azure public cloud. Box customers will have the option of specifying which public cloud provider will store their data. All of this is part of a co-selling agreement, which means Box will not be selling Azure services on their own, but rather as an option to purchase alongside a purchase of Box. Microsoft will also start pitching Box as part of sales of Azure, according to Box.

The default position for Box is the AWS cloud – and unless specified otherwise, Box stores everything in AWS. Google and Microsoft are additional options.

But what about Azure Stack?

But Microsoft has an interesting new product hopefully launching in the next few months. The often promised, but soon to be finally delivered Azure Stack gives enterprises and service providers a way to achieve a high-fidelity Azure clone, but in a private setting. Azure Stack is a boon for organizations and service providers that want to offer a full-fidelity hybrid cloud offering for particular use-cases (sensitive data, or regions where the public cloud is not supported, for example).

Which leads to an intriguing possibility. Many years ago in a conversation with Box’s co-founder and charismatic CEO, Aaron Levie, I made the flippant suggestion that he should simply acquire a small hybrid EFSS vendor, in order to be able to offer Box in different flavors (public, private and hybrid.) At the time that seemed like a ludicrous idea. Times have slightly changed and while, at the time of writing, Levie hadn’t responded to my questions about Azure Stack, this possibility is certainly an interesting one.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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