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DropBox seeks to woo IT admins with team data controls

Wants to beat down Microsoft, Google, Apple, EMC threats

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Dropbox is changing its cloud storage service to reassure IT administrators that they can control their users and not have sensitive information taking wing out of their corporate servers.

Last November the company claimed it had 100 million users, and that 95 per cent of Fortune 500 companies have at least one Dropbox user. That last stat is hardly impressive, given the nunmber of employees such firms have, but the company is increasingly focused on selling its "Dropbox for Teams" corporate product into small and medium sized business – moving out of the consumer ghetto and into paying enterprise customers.

The Teams product is designed to let groups within a company share documents and data over the Dropbox servers. It costs $795 per year for five users, and an extra $125 for every new team member. Some basic administrative tools come with the service, but now Dropbox has started revamping these to give IT administrators access to more information.

On Tuesday, the company added a new UI to the IT admin interface with added functions such as giving information on an individual's usage, the IP address from which they are logging in, the use of third-party applications within the Dropbox system, adding the ability to block accounts (if a laptop is stolen, for example), and including tools to enforce the use of two-factor authentication.

"These are the things that were defined as most important in the process of conversations with customers," Sujay Jaswa, VP of sales and business development, told The Register. "If we look at what people have been asking for, then this captures a huge percentage of those things."

Dropbox has carved out a respectable niche in the cloud storage business, but is facing increasing competition from Microsoft SkyDrive, Google Drive, Apple iCloud and enterprise-specific services such as EMC's Syncplicity scheme. But Jaswa said the company wasn't concerned about the big boys muscling in on its turf. "In our sales calls, it's only a single digit of those calls that even mention a competitor. They're not doing the comparison shopping thing," he said.

Nevertheless, it's going to be interesting to see if the larger firms can leverage their enterprise user base to exclude the plucky start-up. Expect much more movement in this market over the coming year from Dropbox and its foes. ®

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