Amazon Web Services' release of its Zocalo cloud service for managing and sharing documents is a very interesting move. Yes, many such services are already out there, including Google Drive, Box, and Dropbox, but AWS goes further with Zocalo.
For starters, Amazon promises to take care of the storage, authentication, security, and other aspects of running a document sharing service for you. Beyond that, AWS will push further into mobile and introduce services to aid mobile application development and system administration.
What's the secret sauce? Security and centralized trust are built into Zocalo from the start. It can link to an Active Directory, and the files are stored in a named AWS Region with encryption used when the documents are transmitted. There is even an option for the user to control which files are downloaded and which are not. The product seems to focus on making documents accessible by those you authorize to see and edit the documents, but still provide the document owner with control and visibility.
A few forces are at work here.
First, many people in enterprise IT believe that cloud-based file sharing systems like Dropbox are a security threat. In many cases, they have disallowed its use and even blocked access. They may find the security features of Zocalo more to their liking, as the service seems to have been built with the enterprise in mind.
Second, Zocalo is part of Amazon Web Services, and AWS is a great brand within enterprises these days. Indeed, most enterprises already run Simple Storage Service instances and are happy with it. What used to be true for IBM -- "You can't get fired for recommending IBM" -- is increasingly true of AWS.
Finally, the focus seems to be on ease-of -use. I would have been concerned that this product was too developer-focused, coming from AWS, but if you walk through the screens presented onAWS's blog post, it seems logical and easy to work with.
Of course, AWS could shoot itself in the foot and have a security breach or extralong outages that calls this enterprise niceness into question. However, I suspect that won't happen.
Also, Dropbox, Google, and others are not slouches. They all have set a clear path for the enterprise, with attractive security and management features. In some cases, enterprises will go with the existing document-sharing providers, considering their many years of experience in the market.
However, like many AWS ventures, the Zocalo product is likely to drive interest. Although it's late to the market, it could quickly become valuable for historically cloud-storage-averse enterprises.
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