Dropbox sees huge potential in Europe
Fast-growing Dropbox, which has its HQ in Dublin and Bono and Edge as investors, has become a tech company to watch
However, it is the business market aspirations of the company that stand out in recent weeks and promise the most lucrative return. Dropbox has claimed that individuals at over 95 per cent of Fortune 500 companies already are using Dropbox.
With companies of all sizes having security concerns about cloud-based services, though – especially services employes might be using for company projects without a formal okay – Dropbox sees the opportunity for offering greater controls and enterprise-level security.
If employees are already using Dropbox, goes the thinking, and businesses worry about having business work mixed in with a person’s personal files on a consumer-targeted application, and what rights they might have to access business work held on an employee’s personal-use application, then why not enable businesses to move employees on to a paid for, business-strength Dropbox?
Recently, Dropbox poached Salesforce. com senior vice president Ross Piper to head up this more concentrated move to sell the Dropbox platform to the business sector. With Salesforce.com having pioneered cloud-based computing and built an extensive business on it, Piper will likely bring reassurance to wary executives.
In addition, Dropbox was said last week to have hired in one of VMWare’s top engineers focused on business-strength virtualisation, Matt Eccleston.
Yet possible problems with relying on the Dropbox (or any) cloud were apparent earlier this year when Dropbox’s cloud service became inaccessible. For those who use the desktop Dropbox client, content was still stored locally on the device hard-drive, so the problem was one of inconvenience. For companies needing access to cloud-only content, though, such a situation could swiftly turn into a crisis.
In June 2011, it also suffered a serious security failure that allowed an unknown number of users to log into any account using any password. The other big issue for Dropbox was summarised in an online comment from a reader of the Wired story: “No mention of privacy concerns with this cloud-storage utopia?”
Stored in the cloud
If ever greater amounts of business and consumer data is stored in the cloud, obvious questions arise as to who has permission to access that data and for what purpose. Although Dropbox encrypts all data uploaded to its service, the company is subject to the same US laws that have caused a furore after the extent of American data surveillance through programmes such as Prism, was revealed by whistle-blower Edward Snowden. In a statement earlier this summer, Dropbox has said that it was “not part of any such program”.
The company has many smaller competitors, some of which offer open-source, user-controlled encryption that would offer greater security against prying state eyes. It also is going up against big firms like Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon and any others who might wish to offer a sync, store and share business offering.
Its advantage for now, though, is a large, global userbase that already knows and loves Dropbox – making it potentially less painful for a business to migrate employees from consumer sharing, to a more enterprise-focused service– and, from a selfish Irish point of view, almost surely bringing ever more jobs to its Dublin HQ.