Salesforce.com respins cloud storage service Chatterbox into 'Files'

The CRM giant touts lots of friendly third-party deals, but it looks like Salesforce working harder on covering its bases inside and out.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO -- September usually rings in Salesforce.com's annual Dreamforce expo, but even though the trade show has been pushed off to November, the CRM giant still has some product news ready to go.

Being a purveyor of all things cloud, Salesforce has gone back to the drawing board on its Chatterbox cloud storage service, refashioning it as "Salesforce Files."

The simpler name essentially brings the platform more in line with other pointedly-named products such as the Sales Cloud, the Marketing Cloud, and Work.com, among others. The moniker "Chatterbox" was somewhat of a spinoff of Salesforce Chatter, Salesforce's hallmark social networking platform.

Nasi Jazayeri, executive vice president and general manager of Salesforce Chatter, stressed that the motivation for building this corporate file service is to facilitate business processes across social, mobile and cloud applications.

"Files are at the heart of every business process," Jazayeri remarked during a press conference at the Salesforce executive briefing center on Thursday, lamenting that these files are also "scattered across disconnected systems."

Chatterbox was all about taking locally saved files and syncing across multiple devices, Jazayeri described.

But over the last year, Jazayeri admitted that the team behind it learned there was a lot more functionality needed here.

Anna Rosenman, senior manager of Salesforce Chatter, acknowledged that customers already have investments in a "variety of different boxes," and the right solution for them wasn't to create another repository.

"The right answer was to get rid of the clutter, get rid of this chaos and collect in it in a way that makes sense for the business," Rosenman posited.

With Files, Jazayeri outlined that the new version is about connecting all users and business processes in the Salesforce cloud with corporate third-party repositories, both in the cloud and on-premise. That's from local home-grown systems to the likes of Box, Google Drive, and Microsoft SharePoint.

The latest iteration of Chatterbox-turned-Files is also based on Salesforce's acquisition of French content integration software vendor EntropySoft back in February.

Certainly, Salesforce is touting lots of interest in third-party support for Files, but it also looks like the Bay Area corporation is working harder on covering its bases as far as cloud file storage and sharing is concerned.

Chatterbox, now known as Files, originally debuted a year ago at Dreamforce, as a tool aimed to compete with Dropbox and Box. As an augmented version of Chatterbox, Files still syncs up documents across devices while promising secure file sharing.

At the time, John Taschek, senior vice president of marketing strategy at Salesforce, declared that the target was Dropbox, not Box.

Box and Salesforce.com have had an increasingly frenemy-like relationship, especially as Salesforce continues to expand its own cloud-based file sharing service.

Still, Box has plenty of support ready for Salesforce products through Box Embed, the Los Altos, Calif.-based company's HTML5-embeddable framework that brings together its suite of collaboration features and cloud-stored content to third-party applications.

Salesforce executives asserted during Thursday's presentation is not to replace these third-party systems and force customers to replicate files.

Right now, it looks like Salesforce's evolving cloud storage strategy is to offer as many choices as possible, both in-house file sharing and storage as well as integrating itself with other providers that already host tons of content.

Currently available in private beta mode, Salesforce Files will not be sold as a standalone service but rather through Salesforce's existing cloud platforms for sales, service and marketing.

Pricing for Salesforce Files will be revealed when it becomes generally available in February 2014.

Editorial standards