Dreamforce 2012: Salesforce unveils Dropbox rival

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Salesforce has taken aim at cloud storage service Dropbox by launching a rival offering based on its Chatter enterprise social network.

Dubbed Chatterbox, it provides real time synchronisation of files across any device and allows users to quickly and easily access and work on files directly from their Chatter feed.

The new service will let business users share, manage and collaborate on files securely and with the same levels of ease and comfort as they do when sharing photos and suchlike on Facebook, according to salesforce.com.

It will be available in the first half of next year. No details about pricing have been announced as yet.

"We know what drives adoption is the file. We thought why is there not a Dropbox for the enterprise running on the trusted salesforce platform?," said Parker Harris, salesforce.com's co-founder.

"Chatter brings social to collaboration. We have over 170,000 live networks today. It is delivering productivity gains like a 30 per cent reduction in email. We're listening to you, we need your feedback. Please keep it coming."

Harris referenced the work Virgin America is doing to enhance the customer experience through use of Chatter and associated tools. He gave an example whereby a Gold Elevate customer was concerned he might miss his flight connection to Cabo. By knowing who he is and where he was sitting, Virgin America could communicate with him by pushing a notification to his seatback screen reassuring him he will make that connecting flight with further instructions on where to go to do so.

"You wanted to have an Android client, we added it. You also asked for us to break down those barriers of collaboration. That's why we're announcing Salesforce.com Chatter Communities. We rewrote Chatter to make this possible," Harris added.

"Sharing files has always been a key pillar of enterprise collaboration, but traditional internal systems are difficult to access and navigate, and most cloud options today provide a virtual folder and little else," said Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research at Nucleus Research.

"Salesforce Chatterbox will provide an integrated way for employees to share and access files from anywhere, and be notified of file changes or additions within their Chatter feed. Salesforce Chatterbox will completely eliminate the need for Dropbox in the enterprise and will help facilitate secure sharing of documents and files - a corporate necessity today."

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.