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Dropbox Lands Arizona State as Enterprise Customer, Hires Education Unit Head

A new focus on higher education in the cloud.

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Cloud file-sharing and storage company Dropbox said today that it has secured a deal to provide its enterprise services to the faculty and staff of Arizona State University.

It also said that it has hired Jason Katcher, the head of Google’s education efforts in the Americas, to lead a new business unit devoted to selling its enterprise services to colleges and universities. At Google he had been devoted mainly selling Google Apps and Chrome to educational institutions.

The moves are the latest for Dropbox in its unfolding competitive wrangle with Box, the smaller but more enterprise-focused cloud file-sharing and collaboration service. Dropbox’s strength is in its overall number of users, which as of June stood at 400 million individual users across its consumer and enterprise services. Within that, the company had 130,000 businesses signed up and meanwhile 3,000 educational institutions are using Dropbox generally. Box as of its most recent quarter had 37 million registered users and had signed up 47,000 businesses.

Ross Piper, head of Dropbox’s enterprise business, says that user base has created a network of more than 2.1 billion connections. “We think that’s an important metric that often gets overlooked,” he said. “It indicates how much people are collaborating on Dropbox and we think it dwarfs our competitors.”

The deal with Phoenix-based Arizona State, which has about 90,000 students, calls for Dropbox to be deployed to 10,000 faculty and staff. Gordon Wishon, the university’s CIO, says the institution has a far-flung faculty working around the world who often handle sensitive documents related to research and intellectual property. Additionally, there are 17,000 students taking classes via its online education programs.

Rival Box has recently been active on the education front too. It launched its Box for Education initiative last month and named customers including Penn State, Utah State University and Emerson College.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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