Amazon's file sharing service Zocalo now generally available

The service costs $5 per month after a free 30-day trial

Enterprises that want to share and store files online have yet another option now that Amazon Web Services has opened its Zocalo service to general availability.

This year has seen Amazon focus more on services aimed directly at end users; besides Zocalo it has also come out with hosted WorkSpaces virtual desktops. There is already heavy competition in this arena from Dropbox, Google, Microsoft, and VMware, among others.

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Amazon announced Zocalo in July and pitched the service as an enterprise-friendly way to store and share files. It lets administrators control security policies, user access and storage limits. Administrators can configure policies to prevent employees from sharing documents externally, for example. Integration with Active Directory is possible thanks to the Connect feature.

Another important management feature is the ability to choose the region where files are stored. At the moment, organizations can choose between Amazon's datacenters in Virginia, Oregon and Ireland. The company recommends choosing whatever datacenter is nearest to where most of the users are located, in order to reduce data access latencies.

Users can preview and comment on Microsoft Office files, PDFs, web pages, images, and text files directly in Zocalo. Beyond that they can store virtually any file type. The maximum size of a single file is 5GB, according to an FAQ about the service.

Apps offer offline access for Apple's iPads and Android-based tablets, including Amazon's own Kindle Fire products. Other devices can access the service via recent versions of Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Safari browsers. For desktops and laptops running Windows 7 and Mac OS X 10.7 or later Amazon offers a free desktop sync application.

You have either have or create an AWS account to use Zocalo, as the file-sharing service is set up using the AWS Management Console.

There's a 30-day free trial that includes 200GB of storage per user for up to 50 users. The cost after the trial is $5 per user and month. The price tier for additional capacity is determined by the total amount of data across all users. The first terabyte costs $0.03 per month and gigabyte.

Amazon also announced that the CloudTrail logger now records calls made to the Zocalo API (application programming interface). CloudTrail records details about API calls and saves them as log files using Amazon's S3 bucket. That information can then be used to troubleshoot operational issues and make it easier to ensure compliance with internal policies as well as regulatory standards, Amazon said.

For now the API is internal, but Amazon plans to expose it in the future. Organizations that want to use the API can contact Amazon. The company is "very interested in learning more about the kinds of applications that you are thinking about building," it said.

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