Box expands Microsoft cloud partnership, inks co-sell pact

Box will also incorporate more of Microsoft's machine learning and artificial intelligence services into its platform.

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Box is deepening its partnership with Microsoft in an effort to co-sell its cloud content management platform with Azure to enterprise customers. Box will also incorporate more of Microsoft's machine learning and artificial intelligence services into its platform and add Azure's international locations to its zoned data center program.

The partnership will bolster Box's mission to bring intelligent software to its platform while also offering Microsoft a go-to-market edge over rival cloud vendors Google and Amazon. Box CEO Aaron Levie told ZDNet earlier this month that the company was focused on partnerships to bring intelligence to Box.

"There are multiple ways we can bring intelligent experiences into Box," Levie said. "Sometimes that can happen through partnerships. If you think about the work Google and Microsoft and others are doing in the AI space, IBM as well -- there's a lot of areas where we can collaborate with those companies to bring their technology into Box, which would obviously have significant efficiencies on the R&D side."

As for Microsoft, the big win comes from the potential exposure to Box's enterprise customer base, which includes 64 percent of the Fortune 500. The Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant also benefits from its inclusion in Box Zones, which Box rolled out last year in an effort to address local data storage requirements. Box Zones gives customers the ability to centralize content and store it locally across Europe and Asia. Up until now, Box Zones relied primarily on data centers from Amazon Web Services and IBM.

Box Zones also lines up with Box's popular KeySafe encryption service, which currently relies on Amazon Web Services. It's unclear whether Box intends to offer a KeySafe version that works with Azure.

What's more uncertain is how this partnership will shape any future rivalries between the two companies, considering that Box and Microsoft compete on multiple levels. For instance, Box's document storage service competes in some ways with Microsoft Office 365 products, and Box uses Amazon Web Services as a storage backup.

Box said the joint Box and Azure offering will be available later this year, along with more details surrounding price and geographic availability.

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