AT&T and Box to pave secure path to cloud content via VPN

Service extends AT&T's NetBond technology to Box and works in conjunction with the carrier's Toggle software

Box and AT&T plan to lock down cloud file-sharing with a service that places enterprise content behind an AT&T VPN.

The service, announced at the BoxWorks conference on Thursday and coming in the first half of next year, extends AT&T's NetBond technology to Box. It will be able to work in conjunction with the carrier's Toggle software, which separates business from personal content on mobile devices. Toggle with Box is scheduled to ship early next year.

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Both should help Box's cloud-based storage and collaboration technologies meet security demands at some enterprises. Like other Box services, they are designed to let employees share documents, images, presentations and other material with colleagues on any type of networked device. In that sense, the new joint offerings are potential drivers for BYOD (bring-your-own-device) strategies within enterprises.

NetBond is already available to AT&T subscribers for reaching other cloud platforms from Microsoft, IBM, Salesforce.com and other companies. It works as a secure "onramp" to the cloud, letting users automatically traverse an AT&T VPN (virtual private network) instead of the public Internet to reach cloud services, improving both security and performance, the carrier says. AT&T claims NetBond has just half the delay of open Internet access and is three times as available.

Toggle, introduced in 2012, separates a user's mobile device into two virtual personas, one for personal use and one for business. It's designed to protect enterprise data on the device and put personal and business use on two different accounts.

Also on Thursday, Box announced a retention management feature with which enterprises can set policies for keeping and deleting records according to legal or corporate requirements. Policies will stay with a document for its whole lifetime in Box, preventing users from removing the file until they're allowed to do so and then automatically deleting the file when the proper time comes, the company said. The feature is due by the end of this year.

Box faces competition from bigger cloud rivals including Google and Microsoft as well as from the more consumer-oriented Dropbox, which is beefing up its paid, professional options. The 10-year-old company is focusing on adding features for enterprises, including a workflow engine it announced at BoxWorks on Wednesday. Box says 27 million workers at 240,000 businesses use its services.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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