Box Brings Its Content Management Platform to Azure

Microsoft and Box hit another milestone in their partnership recently with the availability of the Box collaboration and enterprise content management (ECM) service on Microsoft's Azure public cloud.

Announced last week, the move allows Box customers to use Azure as their primary storage for content. It marks the latest point of integration between sometime-rivals Microsoft and Box, which embarked on a collaboration deal two years ago that began with basic Office integration.

The companies extended their partnership this past June and elaborated on their roadmap at last month's BoxWorks 2017 conference. Box said the first order of business would be to offer its service in all of Microsoft's Azure global regions. That promise came to fruition with last week's announcement.

"It's Box content management capabilities with the content being stored in Azure," said Sanjay Manchanda, Box general manager and vice president, in an interview.

Now available in the United States, the Azure-integrated Box service will eventually be rolled out throughout Microsoft's 40 Azure regions, allowing customers with data sovereignty requirements to ensure their data doesn't leave the confines of a specific country or locale, Manchanda explained.

Box historically has run its own datacenter operations throughout the world, but decided its best route to scaling would be to partner with the large global cloud providers. In addition to Microsoft, Box has partnerships with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and IBM. Manchanda, who worked at Microsoft for more than 10 years before joining Box, said the partnership with his former employer is similar to the relationship between Box and IBM, in that both include technical and co-marketing pacts.

Manchanda noted that giving Box customers access to its service in Azure will simplify cross-organization collaboration among employees and their external partners, suppliers and customers. It will also provide secure content management by tapping Box's integrations with more than 1,400 SaaS-based applications, including those offered via Office 365, and will allow organizations to do the same when building custom applications.

The roadmap calls for Box to use Microsoft's Azure Key Vault service, which lets organizations bring and manage their own encryption keys. While Box offers its own encryption service called Box Key Safe, which uses a hardware security module (HSM) for encryption, it won't be making it into the new service. "We plan to use the service that Azure Key Vault provides," Manchanda said.

As part of its roadmap, Box also plans to integrate Microsoft Cognitive Services with its service, allowing customers to automatically identify content, categorize it, run workflows and make it easier for users to find information.

Asked whether Box plans to support Azure Stack, either deployed on a customer's premises or via a third-party managed services provider, Manchanda said that isn't part of the current roadmap -- but didn't rule it out if there's customer demand.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.