Box made a move this week to bring streaming capabilities to its cloud storage offering and differentiate its platform in the enterprise content management market.
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Box acquired Streem -- a cloud storage startup based in San Francisco that specializes in streaming large media files from the cloud to desktops -- for an undisclosed sum this week.
This could help Box gain ground in the enterprise content management space, a hot market with major competitors, including Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Citrix ShareFile, AirWatch by VMware's Secure Content Locker and numerous others. Apple appears poised to join the fray with its forthcomingiCloud Drive.
[Box has] got to offer value-adds that their competition isn't.
principal analyst, J. Gold Associates
"[Box] has got to diversify; they've got to offer value-adds that their competition isn't, and maybe that's one of the reasons why they went with Streem," said Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates in Northborough, Massachusetts.
Streem's file system, StreemFS, allows users to mount a cloud drive onto a computer and access files from the cloud. Files don't need to be saved directly on desktops and instead can be streamed from the cloud and accessed at any time.
In addition, Streem created an "on-the-fly" video transcoder that streams video in any format from the cloud, as well as custom streaming and buffering algorithms so cloud files open as fast as one saved locally.
Streem's four-person team will join Box and no specific timeline has been set for when Streem's technologies will be incorporated into Box's enterprise products, according to a statement from Aaron Levie, Box's CEO.
The streaming capabilities of Streem and the storage capabilities of Box seem to complement each other, according to Gold.
"I'm assuming Box is trying to out-compete the others by offering an extension to their online storage, which includes streaming," Gold said.
There's also an opportunity around file sync for Box that it currently doesn't have, according to Alan Lepofsky, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research Inc. in Toronto.
"I hope this improves their ability to only sync changes instead of entire files," Lepofsky said on Twitter following the news of the acquisition.
Levie outlined some scenarios where he envisioned Streem's usefulness for Box customers.
For data-intensive industries, such as healthcare, oil and gas, manufacturing, and media and entertainment, Streem could mean quicker access to data than what local drives can support. It could also provide "better protection and control of information for data where it lives" for highly regulated industries, according to Levie.
Enterprises could also use Streem's streaming capabilities within Box for help with practices like webcasts and training videos, according to Gold.
As for existing Streem users, "a seamless migration plan" is in the works to transfer everything in Streem accounts to Box, according to a statement on Streem's website. Users will also be able to request a copy of all their files in a .zip file. Instructions are expected to be sent to users in the coming weeks.
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