Amazon throws Zocalo in the ring to box with Box & Dropbox

Zocalo Box DropboxAmazon has just made a move into the cloud business services market with a direct attack on Dropbox and Box – it’s launched Zocalo, billed as a secure enterprise storage service. Zocalo, which is the Spanish word for plaza or town square, launches as a limited preview today.

According to Amazon, Zocalo is a “fully managed, secure enterprise storage and sharing service with strong administrative controls and feedback capabilities that improve user productivity”. Zocalo can be used to “store, share, and gather feedback on documents, spreadsheets, presentations, webpages, images, PDFs, or text files”, from any device the user desires.

A crucial feature of Zocalo is that users can edit documents in the cloud without Microsoft Office, and these edits can be translated into an Office Word document even if the same file is being used by someone else on another computer.

If that sounds familiar, that’s because Dropbox now does much the same thing with its Project Harmony feature, which launched last April.

It’s not just the features that Dropbox and Box will be worried about – Amazon’s pricing is characteristically aggressive too. It starts at just $5 per user per month, and includes 200GB of free storage space for each user. Companies only need to pay for active accounts, and they’ll also get a 30-day trial for up to 50 users to test it out. Even better, Amazon WorkSpaces customers will get access to Zocalo entirely free, although the free storage is limited to just 50GB per user in this case. As far as extra storage space goes, Amazon says pricing will be on sliding scale based on the amount of space used.

Admittedly, Amazon isn’t really offering anything different from what’s already out there, but it’s betting on its brand name and the fact that cloud storage is still pretty new. Many enterprises still rely on on-premise storage solutions only, and these don’t come cheap.

“Customers have told us that they’re fed up with the cost, complexity, and performance of their existing old guard enterprise document and collaboration management tools,” said Noah Eisner, GM, Amazon Zocalo at Amazon Web Services, in a statement. “AWS was increasingly being asked to provide an enterprise storage and sharing tool that was easy to use, allowed users to quickly collaborate with others, and met the strict security needs of their organizations. That’s what Amazon Zocalo was built to do.”

Box and Dropbox still have a big advantage though, as they’re streets ahead in terms of users. In the case of Box, its latest filings show some 39,000 paying business customers, plus an additional 27 million individuals. Meanwhile Dropbox boasts over 200 million users, having recently launched its own enterprise play, Dropbox for Business.

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