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Box Teams Up With Amazon, IBM to Offer Local Storage Worldwide

Box is hopping one of the last big hurdles global companies face in adopting cloud technologies: Data sovereignty laws.


Cloud storage company Box is making an effort to widen its appeal as the office file storage and sharing product of choice among large companies in regulated industries that have offices spread out all over the world.

The company founded by CEO Aaron Levie said it is teaming up with Amazon’s cloud computing division Amazon Web Services and with the computing giant IBM to offer file-storage options in Germany, Ireland, Japan and Singapore. The aim is to address concerns some companies face about storing critical information on computers that are physically located in a country where they operate.

It seems like a small thing, but for companies in certain industries like life sciences, financial services and health care, it’s a big deal. They’re often subject to data sovereignty laws that require them to keep the data they work on stored locally within the country where they operate. That has made it hard for some to fully embrace cloud apps like Box.

It’s called Box Zones, and it will allow Box customers to use its file-sharing Web application, but to use local data centers in Europe or Asia operated by AWS or IBM.

Large multinational organizations have finally gotten the cloud religion, Levie said in an interview, but have been hampered by local laws and regulations. “If you are a hospital in France or a bank in Germany, you have a lot of challenges moving to modern cloud technology because there are local laws that require you to store your files in your country or region,” Levie said. “It’s really one of the last big hurdles for some of these large global organizations in adopting the cloud.”

Box engineers have been working on the products for three years. “We knew we’d never be able to change the laws, so three years ago, we imagined what it would be like if we were operating in 20 or 30 countries,” Levie said. Building local data centers was too expensive, so instead the company opted to take advantage of the growing global footprints of AWS and SoftLayer. Box struck a partnership with IBM last June, and has always been on friendly terms with Amazon.

The service is launching on AWS first in May. IBM cloud will come later. And Levie said to expect Box to add more locations over time. “I’d expect that over the next year or two, you’ll see us operating in dozens of countries.”

It’s an inventive solution for a tricky problem. Some Box rivals — Egnyte comes to mind — handle it differently by offering a mix-and-match of cloud apps that work in concert with on-premise storage.

That’s one thing, Levie said, that Box won’t do.

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