Today, online file storage and collaboration provider Box.net launches integration with Salesforce.com. As TechCrunch explains:
"... businesses will be able to add a Box.net app to their Salesforce accounts, allowing them to quickly access their documents, media, and other files from directly within their CRM ... businesses need to sign up for Box.net's enterprise plan, which includes free access to the Salesforce app. As an added bonus, any businesses using the new Salesforce integration will be eligible for unlimited storage on Box.net ..."
The move is a first step in a strategic direction for the company, its VP of marketing Jen Grant told me on Tuesday: "We're moving towards a broader look at how the cloud can help a business. Now we really want to start connecting clouds together," she explained. "Today, we're connecting the Box.net cloud with the Salesforce.com cloud. In the future, we're looking at partnering with many other services."
The unlimited storage is a key part of this offering, which is designed to act as a single, permanent home for users' data as they move between online applications. If Box.net succeeds in its ambitions, it will become the "Switzerland" of online data storage — the one neutral location where everyone feels their online valuables are safest.
Of course one vital component in winning that role will be the trustworthiness and reliability of Box.net as a cloud repository (especially in light of recent failures elsewhere). With $14.6 million venture funding to date (almost half of it in a round announced last month), Box.net is not yet in the topmost league of cloud providers so may need to continue its expansion before it can afford a fully redundant architecture. But convenience and competitive pricing are also important considerations in the small-to-mid-size business market that produces most of the customers of this service. Here's what Grant told me in an email when I followed up our conversation on Tuesday with a question about security and disaster recovery at Box.net:
"Here is a detailed outline of our current security measures in place: https://enterprise.box.net/features/security
"In the short term, we're adding encryption on files at rest (among other initiatives) in addition to the encryption in transit that we already have; you can expect this to be complete in the next few weeks.
"For the long term, we're currently undergoing the SAS 70 certification process within the company, which will 'officially' endorse our standards regarding both security and privacy. This is above and beyond security implementations that most companies have on an internal server or collaboration tool.
"... keeping our customers' data safe and secure IS the core of what we do, and we know that our very business depends on us maintaining that level of security. Because of that, we spend a great deal of time thinking through how to implement and maintain the highest level and latest advances in security technology."
Box.net has produced a useful YouTube video explaining how the new Salesforce.com integration works.