Wooing Australian businesses, Dropbox reworks global maintenance window to boost local availability

Cloud-storage provider Dropbox has reworked its global maintenance window to suit Australian businesses as part of a business-focused security and governance boost that sees the company taking the fight to business-focused rivals in the exploding market it created.

The new capabilities include native integration between the company's Dropbox for Business (DfB) service and Microsoft Active Directory – allowing business customers to manage access to Dropbox accounts through a common and widely understood account-management framework.

Dropbox has also introduced new API features including support for shared folders, which are being built into a range of third-party extensions designed to improve corporate visibility into Dropbox accounts and the often sensitive data being stored there.

These and related capabilities are part of a redoubled effort behind DfB that, ANZ country manager Charlie Wood told CSO Australia, is designed to help businesses get control of their employees' Dropbox use and reduce their exposure to unsecured and unmanaged distribution of sensitive information into the 300m cloud-storage accounts it manages worldwide – including 8m accounts in Australia alone.

“As users start to use Dropbox in the business space, it has been very easy and straightforward and intuitive to introduce,” Wood said.

“What we're doing with DfB is layering on all those controls, governance, provisioning, auditability and traceability,” he continued. “We've made it easy to enforce two-factor authentication. And businesses can then integrate this use of Dropbox into the portfolio of managed services – so that your IT manager has the tools to manage it all properly.”

The changes also included a revision to the regular maintenance window that Dropbox has reserved for bringing down its service for updates.

This window was previously designated as being once a fortnight, with the system potentially taken down at any point on every second American Saturday and Sunday, if it were required. However, as the company pushed into the Australian market it became clear that this schedule could result in the service of Australian businesses being taken offline at some point on the Australian Monday.

Work with the US-based Dropbox IT team shifted and condensed this into a 4-hour window that now limits potential outages to the hours of 1am to 5am on the Australian Sunday – when it is unlikely to interfere with business or personal usage.

This boost in availability, Wood says, reflects the company's commitment to hastening the shift from personal Drobox accounts only, to the more feature-rich DfB product – which recently joined Microsoft Azure in being accredited to the new ISO 27018 standard around protection of personally identifiable information (PII).

This certification, combined with the stronger controls over Dropbox functionality and enterprise management, is underscoring the company's commitment to better cater to the needs of business customers in Australia and around the world. The company also recently restructured its data-centre strategy by shifting its international customers to 'Dropbox Ireland' in an effort to accommodate European data-protection requirements.

Dropbox's efforts have already helped the company gain new momentum within Australia, where it is in “final conversations” with a large Australian enterprise for adoption of the cloud-based storage service.

“ISO 27018 is less about the mechanics of security and more about the conversations of trust and transparency,” Wood said, noting that during negotiations the customer had “come back to us and I spoke with the corporate lawyers, and we were able to answer their enquiries just by pointing them to the outputs of our Ernst & Young audited ISO 27018 certification.”

“It's all about transparency and trust – about being open about what we will do with your data and, more importantly, what we will not do with your data. This certification puts us in a very different place than our competitors: when we talk with potential customers, it allows us to have a very grown-up conversation.”

This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.

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Tags dropboxmicrosoft azureMicrosoft Active DirectoryCSO Australiacloud-storageCharlie WoodDropbox for Business (DfB)Australian businessedata-protectionsecurity and governance

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