IBM and Box have combined their cloud products in a bid to boost the scope and appeal of the services and gain a wider enterprise audience.
The partnership will bring together Box's cloud-based storage and collaboration platform with a suite of IBM tools and security technologies, while also tapping into the global reach offered by the IBM Cloud.
Box chief executive Aaron Levie said in a blog post that the partnership will help the company to target more enterprise and public sector customers, which he claims Box cannot do alone.
"We're taking the best of Box's technology and combining it with IBM's impressive portfolio of leading security, analytics, content management and social capabilities to jointly create all-new offerings and outcomes for customers," he wrote.
At first it was 📞😯 then it was ✈️🚙✈ then it was 👫👭👬 then 👌📝and now it's ☁️☁️☁️☁️. https://t.co/sbUGNuoZoc— Aaron Levie (@levie) June 24, 2015
Levie added that Box is now allowing customers to choose one of its partners' cloud platforms for their data storage, which allows them to have their data stored on a cloud supported by data centres in their local region.
Such a move should give companies operating in countries with stringent data protection and location regulations more flexibility in the way they use Box for data storage.
The combined products will bolster the way enterprises use the firms' services, protect their cloud-stored data and enable them to develop new apps.
Box's platform will make use of IBM's enterprise-grade content management tools, such as for analytics, and integrate IBM security technologies, like threat detection and identity protection, with its own security offerings. It will also allow Box customers to store their data in the IBM Cloud.
IBM, meanwhile, will be able to increase the scope of its Watson Analytics service by analysing content and data stored in the Box platform.
IBM's Verse and Connections email and social collaboration services will also be able to tap into the features offered by Box's platform.
Furthermore, IBM will be able to offer developers of enterprise apps the ability to integrate Box APIs into apps built on the IBM Bluemix cloud, allowing developers to build more content-related features into their software.
Both companies will work together to create content management apps and integrate Box features into IBM's MobileFirst for iOS apps. They will also provide consultancy to enterprises looking at using Box with their existing data and systems.
Levie cited an example of how the partnership could work in practice. "A retailer will be able to connect their back-office workflows with the content needed to help a retail store [employee] deliver a more personalised shopping experience, and a healthcare provider will be able to leverage IBM's analytics to serve relevant health information to drive better patient engagement," he said.
Box is no stranger to partnerships with major technology brands. The cloud firm has a close relationship with Microsoft, one of IBM's major competitors in the cloud arena.
This partnership was recently expanded when Microsoft integrated Box for Office Online cloud storage with its web apps.
Author's view: Box appears to have a voracious appetite for partnerships even if they are with companies that are, in some regards, rivals.
Given how Box is gambling on rapid growth rather than short-term profits, it is unsurprising to see it partner with IBM, despite being a partner of Microsoft as well.
However, IBM will not be a trophy brand in the partnership, as the company is likely to use the Box tie-up as a way to further entice enterprises onto its cloud platform. It also gives IBM access to the products and capabilities of a rapidly growing cloud software firm.
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