I wrote this in one of my blog posts about a year ago but I have been getting asked a lot of questions about Box and Dropbox recently when it comes to cloud based Enterprise Content Management so I thought it would be good to share the posting again.
Most of the giant software companies getting into the document and Information space are offering “enterprise file storage” in my opinion. Sounds great, but don’t be confused — file storage is a different animal entirely than “enterprise document and content management.” Box, Dropbox and Google Docs offer great tools, if a user is just trying to back up their personal business files to the cloud or to share some documents between a project team. They can offer unlimited storage because of their size, but the question you have to ask is: “How are they managing the data?” Are they managing it, or are they simply offering a cloud storage unit? Storage space is great until you need something out of it or have to share it with others as part of a structured business process. It can be done, but not very efficiently or effectively. The new giant players offer, in my opinion: a cost-effective way to make sure a document is accessible by the person who put it there with some limited sharing capabilities.
How do the giant storage guys manage enterprise capture from so many sources? Email, line of business integration, MFP’s, scanners, ERP, Print streams, etc… Are they tagging or indexing the documents for easy retrieval? What type of complex security models do they offer beyond folder and document security? Do they have their own viewer so some sensitive content can be read-only? Does the solution build its workflow process around your company or are you building your new workflow around what a product does. Solutions offered by the giants may have workflow but you need to work with what they have. MaxxCloud is a flexible tool that allows the workflow to be molded around your existing process.
MaxxVault is looking to help manage and secure large amounts of information that is easily shared but is closely audited for all key user functions. The giants are great at short-term collaboration and general file management (albeit with no formal indexing structure), but MaxxCloud offers large-scale document repository management, enterprise workflow, line of business integration and advanced searching capabilities.
Box, Google Docs, Dropbox, etc. are all great companies but they are not enterprise document management and workflow companies or at least not yet. Their goal is very simple, get users storing documents using to their clouds services. Once they have the users the will slowly add more document management features overtime. It’s kind of like SharePoint a decade ago. SharePoint is free how are you going to compete with free? Everyone was saying that Microsoft was going to take over the document management industry. It never happened. SharePoint is a strong player in the marketplace but they don’t dominate the space when it comes the transactional business and custom workflow aspects of the market. SharePoint is still a great collaboration tool but not meant for long-term storage or managing millions upon millions of files in one library. We just converted an 8 TB SharePoint client over to MaxxCloud. SharePoint was getting very hard to manage on a day to day basis because of he large volume of data. The market Box and Drop Box are trying to capture is SharePoint. They want to be the “new and improved SharePoint”, but they are only a few steps ahead of them today. All the big players in the file storage space have the money and I am sure they will buy up more companies to help them fill the void, but even as they do that they still won’t be considered a specialized Document Management and Workflow company– unless they buy one of the top 5 players in the ECM / EDMS space.
I hope this explains why products like (MaxxVault/MaxxCloud and Box/Dropbox) are similar in some ways but are really trying to accomplish two very different things.