Dropbox woos large businesses with new Enterprise offering

The new service adds features on top of the existing Dropbox Business plan

20151104 drew houston dropbox open2

Dropbox co-founder and CEO Drew Houston speaks at the company's Open conference in San Francisco on November 4, 2015.

Credit: Blair Hanley Frank

Large enterprises have a new Dropbox product tailored for them that the company unveiled at its user conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Dropbox Enterprise is built on the foundation of Dropbox Business, the company’s product aimed at organizations. Companies that buy it will get access to all of the features in Dropbox’s business-facing offering, plus special capabilities like the ability to prevent people with certain email address domains from using them with a Dropbox personal account.

When companies set up the service’s account capture feature, any employees with personal Dropbox accounts that are set up to use a company email address will have their syncing halted until they choose to either bring those accounts under the company umbrella or change the identity they use for the accounts to a personal email.

While administrators will get to see how many users have opted to keep their accounts personal, they won’t know which specific users opted out of joining the Dropbox Enterprise umbrella. That could prove problematic for systems administrators who want to make sure that those users haven’t exfiltrated company data using Dropbox.

Companies that buy Dropbox Enterprise will also get access to new insight tools that provide a graph of how members of an organization work together (and with outside organizations) as measured by the files that they share through Dropbox. Using those tools, administrators can evaluate whether people are working together the way they want them to, and also track sharing outside their organization to make sure nothing problematic is going on.

It’s similar to Microsoft’s Delve Organizational Analytics service for Office 365 users, which the tech giant has yet to make generally available to users of its collaboration suite. Microsoft’s service offers deeper insights into how people are working based on information it’s able to glean from the Office Graph API and also lets individual users see how their work habits compare to those of their co-workers.

Dropbox Business and Dropbox Enterprise customers will be able to sign contracts with the company to provide HIPAA-compliant storage for their files. That’s key for regulated healthcare businesses that need those storage controls in order to keep in line with laws governing the way they work.

In addition, IT administrators managing Dropbox Enterprise or Dropbox Business can now get access to beta versions of new security features including Suspended User State, which makes it possible to lock a user out of an account without having to delete the files in it. That’s a powerful tool for locking ex-employees (or soon to be ex-employees) away from sensitive customer data while still allowing access to it further on.

It will be interesting to see if the new offering drives additional interest in Dropbox’s offering from the large businesses that it’s targeted to. The company is competing against some heavy hitters in the tech industry, including Microsoft and Google. At the moment, there are more than 150,000 organizations using Dropbox Business at least in some small deployment, so that's a start. 

This story has been updated to correct the name of Dropbox’s business product in the second-to-last paragraph.

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