Box Will Let Customers Use Third Party Cloud Storage

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Box adds new security, data protection features and will let users control storage, network and encryption keys

Box is making it easier to manage and protect data stored in its platform with new governance and security features, as well the ability for customers to use their own cloud storage and network.

Whitney Bouck, Box’s general manager for enterprise, said the added flexibility would allow customers to exert greater control over their content, how it’s delivered and how it’s secured.

“We have always believed in giving you as much choice and control in Box,” Whitney Bouck, Box general manager for enterprise said at BoxWorks 2015. “Choice of cloud infrastructure behind Box is the next thing. We know you make choices for other applications that aren’t in Box’s infrastructure. We want to see the same thing [on Box].”

Cloud Flexibility

Box BoxWorks 2015 (2)At present, files must be stored in Box’s data centres, but the ability to use a third party public cloud will not only provide greater flexibility, but also give more reassurance to companies in certain industries that must comply with certain regulations – such as storing their data in a certain country.

IBM’s SoftLayer will be the first provider to be supported when the feature is launched next year, but Bouck said others will be supported soon, opening the door for Amazon Web Serivces (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.

Box is also allowing customers who store content in its own data centres the chance to use a direct connection rather than relying on the public Internet. The company says this will offer greater control over things like bandwidth and latency, with AT&T in the US and NTT in Japan supported in launch.

Customer’s ability to manage their own encryption keys has been extended to the cloud following the launch of AWS Key Management Service (KMS). Box Enterprise Key Management (EKM) was launched earlier this year, but this necessitated the purchase of AWS Hardware Security Modules (HSM), making it an expensive option, and a requirement that KMS eliminates.

“This makes key management an affordable option for companies of all sizes,” said Bouck. “We think this will be a popular choice, whether it’s in a hardware module or in the cloud.”

Security

Box BoxWorks 2015 (1)Box has also added new partners to its Box Trust ecosystem of vetted security vendors and has also added new features that protect data sent to people outside a company.

“Part of the day to day way we work now is to share data with others. We have to ensure the data we share is safe and secure,” said Bouck. “We need to be able to share sensitive content with people we don’t manage and devices we don’t control. That opens risk. There have been some ways around this, but they have been poor options.”

To remedy this, administrators will be able to set policies for ‘trusted devices’ that meet certain standards. For example, an external collaborator will only be able to open a file if their device supports encryption or has a firewall enabled. This feature is currently in beta.

Watermarks should also make it more difficult for people to steal valuable intellectual property like a movie script. Before sharing such a file, users can choose to splash a watermark containing the recipients email address and a timestamp across the entire document, creating a visual deterrent to theft and also making it easier to identify where any leaks might occur.

Finally, Box is also adding metadata templates and legal holds to its platform. The latter allows companies to identify any files that might be required for lawsuits and prevent them from being deleted.

“This has been an oft requested feature from the legal departments of customers,” said Bouck.

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