The beauty of the cloud is that it makes it easy for people to get technology in place when they need it. The ugliness of the cloud is that it lets employees bring in technology that the business is unaware of, potentially exposing confidential information or worse. Cloud storage provider Box.net is trying to square that circle with a new version of its Box.net service, which begins rolling out today. The rollout to the company's 5 million customers should be complete in 30 days.
The updated version of the storage service has a new back-end architecture that should let it scale as more users join and yet be more responsive in updating files across collaborators, says CEO Aaron Levie. The service also has a new user interface that previews the documents in a folder or project and shows a list of other related documents (initially meaning they are in the same folder, but later will be based on comparing terms used in documents), Levie says. You can preview PDF and Microsoft Office files.
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The updated Box.net service also adds a comment capability to allow discussions within the Box.net browser window so people can collaborate on projects, not just share documents. In the future, such comments may be integrated with other messaging technologies like Twitter and instant messaging; initially, the only messaging that takes place outside the Box.net environment is email notification of document status changes.
The changes will first be available in the desktop browser environment used to access Box.net, and then work their way into the service's iOS client and into its Android client. The schedule for their integration into iOS and Android is based on the capabilities those devices already have and what Box.net must develop itself. For example, because iOS includes a document preview capability, iOS users will have the new preview capability at launch, Levie notes.