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Will Google Be Box’s Next BFF in Cloud?

Fortune Brainstorm TECH 2014Fortune Brainstorm TECH 2014
Fortune Brainstorm TECH July 15th, 2014 Aspen, CO Aaron Levie, CEO, Box
Photograph by Stuart Isett — Fortune Brainstorm TECH

Box chief executive Aaron Levie will appear on stage with Google cloud chief Diane Greene at his company’s BoxWorks event next week. While neither party will divulge any details in advance, an educated guess would be that Box is preparing to disclose plans to let its customers use Google Cloud Platform services.

Box users can already tap cloud services from Amazon Web Services and IBM to augment Box’s own data storage resources, especially outside the United States—even as Box keeps expanding its own facilities. Amazon’s chief technology officer Werner Vogels is also slated to sit down with Levie next week for an on-stage chat during the conference.

In an interview after Box’s second-quarter earnings call this week, Levie told Fortune that Box (BOX) picked IBM (IBM) and Amazon (AMZN) as its first as cloud partners for its new Box Zones service—which lets multinational companies archive and manage their data outside the United States—because of existing relationships and technical capabilities. But nothing precludes Box from adding additional cloud services partners, Levie said.

The company could, for example, add Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT) to its roster of cloud storage partners. Box already works with both companies to integrate Box file sharing and collaboration with Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365. So if you’re working on a document and want to sync changes with teammates, you can use the Box service to do so.

Box also works with Google on mobile security around Android and integration with the Google Chrome browser, but “there’s still way more opportunity for us to work together,” Levie said. He added that Google “will certainly become way more relevant over time.”

A tighter Box partnership could help Google’s effort to woo big business customers, which are Box’s primary audience. And it could be good for Box customers who want more sources of cheap, reliable storage around the globe.

It’s especially easy to see that Google’s extremely cheap-yet-fast archival storage in its Nearline service might be of interest to Box and its users.

Box, which relied on its own infrastructure for years, started partnering earlier this year on storage with general cloud providers that have many data centers worldwide.

Data sovereignty laws in Germany, Switzerland, and some other countries require that citizens’ data be kept in the country of origin. Box’s deal with Amazon Web Services announced in April enables its customers to direct their data to specific cloud data centers managed by AWS. So, if a German company must store its customer files locally, for example, it can make sure that data goes to AWS’s facility in Frankfurt and nowhere else.

Two months later, Box and IBM inked a somewhat similar deal whereby IBM customers will be able to put their Box data in one of IBM’s 46 data centers worldwide by year’s end. With these partnerships in hand, Box needn’t build a data center in every country.

For Box, with its massive storage needs, it makes sense to work with outside cloud providers, said Forrester Research principal analyst Dave Bartoletti.

“If you are a large software vendor like Box, or Netflix (NFLX), or Spotify that generally pushes the envelope of cloud, AWS, Google are gigantic buckets of bits that you want to get as cheaply as possible.”

Fortune contributor Heather Clancy contributed to this report.