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December 3, 2015

Box GM: Hybrid cloud, the worst of both worlds

Exclusive C-level briefing: David Quantrell, SVP and GM, EMEA, Box spoke to CBR about his battle with IT vendors damaging public cloud.

By James Nunns

A number of large IT vendors such as HPE, IBM and SAP are all pushing a hybrid cloud business model, something that Quantrell believes will lead to them ending up with the worst of both worlds, a lack of business freedom which leads to employees circumventing IT for more free public cloud services.

Quantrell said that content sharing was identified as a problem in the workplace, with everyone knowing that they had to do something with that content.

This led to the creation of systems like Sharepoint, to share but keep everything locked down. The idea being that the best way to to be secure is to be locked down.

He said: "What that then ended up doing was people would end up putting stuff into a Sharepoint repository; you could never find it or extract it, and you could definitely never share it so it was counter-productive."

This led to people circumventing IT and the rise of shadow IT. To counter that, some vendors identified hybrid as being the solution.

"They came with the same old restrictions, they almost picked up the worst of both worlds in the sense of they tried to give freedom but didn’t quite get there. They gave you some level of management in an environment but you still ended up with these restrictions," said Quantrell.

The problem with the hybrid route and some of the ways it’s being addressed is that in some ways: "It’s the worst of all solutions, so you’re locking people down again which means they’ll go over to consumer."

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The challenge in reversing that is that IT have told the CIO that they’ve solved the problem – large amounts of money was spent on systems like Sharepoint and it’s difficult to go back.

"It’s not even about the money, it’s about the credibility to go back and make that decision."

Making public cloud services the choice for enterprise is a challenge, like Ian Massingham, UK technical evangelist, told CBR earlier in the year, the negative messaging and lobbying from some vendors is damaging public cloud’s image.

On vendors pushing hybrid cloud, Quantrell said: "If you’ve got honking great big data centres sitting around or you’re a big systems integrator with tonnes of data centre space sitting around; you’re going to want to sell hybrid because you’ve got to find a way into the new world."

Legislation is an important element that Box has to deal with; something which Quantrell said is guided by some of the companies with large data centres.

"The problem is the legislation gets shaped by the lobbies, so if I’m in the EU and happen to have some large European vendors that have large European data centre space – the lobby is going to push in that one direction," he said.

Public cloud sometimes gets labelled as being less secure, although vendors like Box and AWS would strongly defend their security credentials.

Quantrell said: "There are other motivations from some of the larger players, they have large amounts of revenue from on premise systems, as I say they have large data centres they’ve got to do something with, otherwise they’ve got to write them off."

Box appears to be succeeding in its fight against this, growth figures from its recent financial quarter indicate 41 million registered users and 54,000 paying ones.

The online file sharing and content management company has seen deals with Astra Zeneca which rolled out 50,000 users, GE with 300,000 worldwide and Schneider Electric which rolled out Box to 120,000 users – all of which points to success.

The company’s deal with IBM, which has 400,000 people worldwide has seen the Box deployed to 120,000 users in three months.

 

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