Dropbox tries to make nice with IT

Feb 12, 2013

Dropbox, the fast-growing file-sharing service, has attracted over 100 million users. But it’s not yet won the hearts of IT departments, many of whom are anxious about employees using the site to store and share files that may contain private corporate data.

On Tuesday, the San Francisco-based startup announced a new set of tools IT administrators can use to better track and control what employees do with their Dropbox accounts. The company says its new “admin console” will allow IT to see individual members’ usage patterns and the various devices they have linked to their account. It will also allow them to set sharing controls, keeping certain folders and links within the company.

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Dropbox is already pervasive in many companies -- the startup says 95% of the Fortune 500 are using its file-sharing service. But, in many cases, the service isn’t actually sanctioned by IT, but rather brought in by individual employees who also use it in their personal lives. In fact, some companies have outright bans on Dropbox, though this can be difficult to enforce.

Dropbox has an incentive to become more business-friendly. Over 100 million registered users is an impressive number, but not all of them pay to use the site (Dropbox offers minimal storage for free). By contrast, the company's business-focused "Dropbox for Teams" offering starts at $795 annually per five users.

But getting inside the walls of IT -- especially within larger companies -- could take a little time, despite Dropbox's popularity in the consumer market. Other competitors in the increasingly crowded file-sharing space, like Box, SugarSync, Egnyte and larger players like Salesforce (crm), Google (goog) and Microsoft (msft) are already gunning to be the "Dropbox of the enterprise." Now it appears Dropbox itself is gunning for that title too.

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