Case Study: Dropbox Expands Operations, Finds a New Market—and Boosts Cash Flow

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The Challenge: Scale up to target enterprise users

As Dropbox rapidly grew, its public cloud model became inadequate, especially as the company targeted the enterprise market. In 2007, Dropbox was a small, San Francisco-based file hosting service offering cloud storage, file synchronization, personal cloud, and client software. The company grew at a triple digit rate over the next eight years to nearly a half-billion users today.

As Dropbox expanded, its public cloud service model grew increasingly confining, and its costs onerous. That was especially concerning as the company began targeting lucrative enterprise users. Dropbox wanted to complement its B2C “freemium” consumer service with a B2B solution for enterprises, rolling out to tens of thousands of users. To effect this growth, Dropbox needed a robust new hardware infrastructure model with greater scalability and the flexibility to fine-tune CPU, network bandwidth, and price-to-performance. That meant migrating hundreds of petabytes of data to a new environment without disrupting existing service to customers.

The Solution: A private solution for business users

Dropbox replaced its public cloud with a high-performance, on-premises private cloud. To scale its cloud-based data management and security, Dropbox required seamless collaboration for users — from consumer to SMB to enterprise — regardless of device or technology differences. The company built out an on-premises cloud solution that provides the management and security capabilities to satisfy the lucrative enterprise market.

Dropbox built its hardware infrastructure in blocks, providing more control over network bandwidth, CPU, drive space, and cost per core. All data security is performed in-house; an on-premises data center provides greater control from a protection standpoint. Throughout its hybrid cloud migration, Dropbox built a mirror site resembling a second resource pool within the company’s infrastructure storage tier. When the site was complete, all data on the old infrastructure was copied to the hosted data center.

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