Tech giant Amazon wants in on
and collaboration. On Thursday, the company announced the launch of a limited preview of Amazon Zocalo, an online storage and sharing service for businesses.
Zocalo, which translates from Spanish into square or place, allows PC, Mac or tablet users to comment on files, distribute them for feedback, and control versions. Administrators can integrate the service with existing corporate directories or audit logs, implement sharing policies, and determine where files will live. Policies can be set to control how users share.
Notification can be set up from Zocalo about reviewing deadlines. A sync client allows users to automatically upload files to Zocalo over an encrypted connection, with syncing across registered devices. Users can preview or comment on a wide range of file types, including Office files, PDFs, Web pages, images and text files. To preview or comment on a file, users do not need to have the application that created it.
The cost is $5 per user monthly, which includes 200 GB of storage, and there's a 30-day free trial for up to 50 users, with 200 GB per user. Additional storage can be purchased on a pay-as-you-go basis, without limit. Zocalo is available for free to Amazon WorkSpaces customers, who get 50 GB of storage that can be increased to 200 GB for $2 monthly. The limited preview requires that prospective users, who need an Amazon Web Services account, fill out an online form, join a waiting list, and wait to be contacted to participate.
The Seattle-based company has been focusing on services via its Web Services, and now Zocalo becomes a competitor to such online storage services as Box and Dropbox, both of which have added collaboration and other services on top of cloud-based storage.
Noah Eisner, GM for Zocalo, said in a statement that "customers have told us that they’re fed up with the cost, complexity, and performance of their existing old guard enterprise document and collaboration management tools."
Into ' Customers' Pockets
Charles King, an analyst with industry research Pund-IT, said that "what we're seeing here is Amazon actively trying to get deeper into its AWS customers' pockets." Participants in the preview -- and assumedly the participants in the final release -- need to be AWS customers, which likely do not include as large a population of small businesses as, say, Box and Dropbox's customer base does.
King also noted that "Amazon has done really well when it enters a market early, [while] the storage and sync business is about seven years old, so Amazon is getting here really, really late." This may explain what he called the "extremely aggressive" pricing.
In terms of impact on the existing marketplace for online storage and collaboration, IDC analyst Ajay Gavagai pointed out to us that "leading public cloud vendors such as Microsoft and Google already have the breadth, and scale to compete in price wars."
He noted that Microsoft has announced a terabyte of online storage for $2.50/user/month and Google has offered unlimited storage for $10/user/month.
"The real issue here is for vendors like DropBox, Box, et cetera that charge for storage," Gavagai told us. "Pure play file sync and share vendors will have to differentiate through value-added services to stay relevant in this market."