Box has big news today for small companies and individuals. It is launching new, more affordable pricing plans to attract small and medium businesses to its cloud data storage and file sharing service, and it is doubling the amount of storage it provides for free personal accounts.
Cloud data storage today is like instant-messaging services used to be. Everyone has a favorite, but they also have an account set up with virtually every service available to allow them to share files with co-workers, customers, or friends and family who prefer a different service. Because the services offer free storage plans, many people have a Box, Dropbox, SugarSync, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive, and other accounts.
For those people, Box is increasing the amount of storage available with the free Personal plan from 5GB to 10GB. Box also frequently runs promotions that add storage for customers, such as the campaign earlier this year that rewarded Dell customers with 50GB of free storage for life. It might still be beneficial to maintain accounts on other services in certain scenarios, but for general personal use it would be much better to have data consolidated in one place than trying to juggle four or five different services.
The increased storage is great for individuals, but a business can't--or at least shouldn't--have employees running around sharing business data across their own personal cloud storage services. From a number of perspectives--protecting intellectual property, securing data from unauthorized exposure, and regulatory compliance to name a few--it's just a bad idea. The company has no ability to limit or control access to the data once it leaves the internal network, and there is no way for the company to know which data is being stored where, or who it's being shared with.
This makes the new Box plans particularly attractive for SMBs. The Starter plan offers customers 100GB of pooled storage for teams up to 10 users for $5 per user per month. As a business grows and its needs exceed what the Starter plan has to offer, they can step up to the Business plan which provides 1TB of pooled storage for more users and enterprise application integration (such as Active Directory or Salesforce.com), along with more robust administrative tools for $15 per user per month.
In a blog post about the changes, Box CEO Aaron Levie, says "Whether you're a boutique financial services firm, a construction company, a small medical practice, or a startup working with manufacturers in China, Box can make your business more competitive. We want to help big businesses be as nimble as small ones, and small businesses be as scalable and global as giants."
Box isn't cheap, but the old adage "you get what you pay for" applies. Box offers better administrative controls and business tools and works with a variety of developers and services to provide a complete ecosystem that integrates seamlessly with the data stored in Box.
The new Starter plan lets small and medium businesses step up from using rogue personal storage services and manage and protect cloud data the way a business should. Box now gives SMBs a way to affordably dip a toe in the water, and a path to evolve and scale up as needs change.