IT Managers, no need to replace DropBox, extend it — flexibly

Barb Darrow at GigaOM picked up on a great blog post by The 451′s Kathleen Reidy this week. It  was a great piece that brought up two points that we talk about a lot: Flexibility and Business Model.

But first, I wanted to make a point about “DropBox in the Enterprise” because it does relate to flexibility. I think the smart plays out there – and the smart IT guys – should not be looking to replace DropBox but instead to give their employees the ability to securely access their work data in a way consistent with how they access their personal data. We created ownCloud 2 years ago for just that purpose – and some 400,000 users are using the community version every day.

What really matters to everybody is flexibility: their choice of how to access, their choice of where to store, their choice of how to secure (hopefully not too unsecured!) and their choice of how to integrate with other IT and end-user tools (like DropBox). We give that flexibility to the IT manager, the person who has to make it all work. And you would not believe some of the creative use cases this flexibility has conjured up in the minds of prospective customers and partners.

For us, it makes no sense to tilt against the DropBox windmill, they have created an amazing feature that has revolutionized the way people access, synch and share their data. All we want to do is save IT managers from indigestion and hair loss from all their corporate data running wild on iPhones, iPads, laptops and Androids — and to do that in a cost effective way. You should check out Matt’s take on much of this here.

Which leads me to Business Model, which, after all, will eventually help determine the winning tools in the space. Going back to what we actually sell – software, not storage – we can live on a very flexible subscription model, growing as a customer (or partner) grows and scaling back when they need to. Having a pretty darn good (and popular) open source project also helps us innovate quickly while keeping development costs low.

So, I’ll leave you with a single thought – flexibility, in all its guises, will determine who wins this race.

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