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Dropbox for Teams sharpens enterprise focus with admin enhancements

The latest version of Dropbox for Teams gives admins more control over users' files stored on the network for sharing and collaboration.

You've probably heard about corporate IT departments fearing employee use of file-sharing services such as Dropbox, and sometimes even banning them. Well, Dropbox has heard those stories, too. And today it moved to alleviate the security concerns that keep IT people up at night.

Dropbox enhanced its business-focused cloud file-sharing Dropbox for Teams service, giving administrators more control over what users are doing on the network.

A redesigned console gives administrators deeper visibility into users' data usage and activity. It now allows IT to monitor what devices are linked to the service, and set sharing controls at the account levels, while giving IT more control over third-party applications and Web sessions.

IT can view activity that includes member logins and team invitations. The file-sharing software also allows administrators to track IP address activity, set up private-link usage and generate audit reports through comma-separated values (CSV) files. They can also set controls requiring team members to adhere to a two-step verification process for security, reset passwords and disable applications.

"We are responding to the market and what analysts say administrators are facing," said Thomas "Tido" Carriero, head of engineering at Dropbox. "This is the biggest thing we have launched to restrict sharing, so all file data stays within the corporation. Now administrators can control whether file sharing is allowed outside the user team. [IT] can draw a perimeter around company data."

Dropbox's original focus was consumer use, but it launched Dropbox for Teams in late 2011 with a basic administrator user interface. Since then, Dropbox has made incremental improvements, such as centralized billing and the ability to provision bulk storage. However, it still lacked enterprise-level functions and security.

"These added controls are what everyone was waiting for," said Kristine Kao, associate analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). "In the beginning they focused on the consumer market, but this puts them more on a level playing field."

The enhancements could make Dropbox more competitive in the enterprise with file-collaboration vendor, which has focused on the enterprise from the start. Box Business and Box Enterprise allows for file sharing internally and externally, and Box claims it has 120,000 users with 82% in the Fortune 500.

Dropbox also has an enterprise presence, claiming that 95% of Fortune 500 companies -- as well as 2 million small businesses -- have at least three active users licensed.

Terri McClure, a senior analyst at ESG, said Dropbox's new version has improved business features, but can still go further.

"They need more functions before they can compete in the data center," she said. "They need bulk provisioning of accounts. Right now, IT has to add users one by one when they set up usage. Think about how time-consuming that is for the enterprise."

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