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New Dropbox management features let IT control syncing and sharing

Dropbox adds a few new features to enhance its IT management interface, giving admins more control of the corporate content users share in its business-focused editions.

New Dropbox management tools will give IT more control over corporate content through a simpler interface.

Dropbox, a popular file sync-and-share provider for consumers, has shifted its attention to the business market over the last two years. With the new enterprise features, released today for its Business and Enterprise editions, the company said it aims to offer IT administrators the same ease of use its consumers have always had.

"Dropbox has had a love-hate relationship with the enterprise for quite some time now," said Jack Gold, principal and founder of J. Gold Associates LLC, a mobile analyst firm in Northborough, Mass. "The users love it ... but IT wasn't very happy with it, because people were just doing their own thing, and IT didn't have control of what was being shared and stored."

The new features stem from AdminX, a Dropbox initiative that focuses on streamlining IT administration. They give admins more granular control over corporate files stored in Dropbox folders -- addressing a previous weak spot in the company's offering.

"You didn't have as much control over individual content, which is awful," said Dominic Namnath, CIO at Tri-Counties Regional Center, a nonprofit in Santa Barbara, Calif. "But I think they've been getting better over the last couple years."

It's critical for IT to be able to see which users are allowed to access specific content, and where that content is allowed to go, said Namnath, who is a Box customer and has also used Dropbox.

"I don't think anyone has gotten it completely right yet," he said. "They all have to fix the interface somehow to work in an enterprise environment."

The new Dropbox management interface includes a more organized layout, making it easier for administrators to find the tools they need. Prior to this release, some customers had trouble finding the Dropbox audit log in particular, the company said. The audit log itself will now include more detailed information about user activity, as well.

Automatic sync is the last thing you want if you're IT.
Jack Goldprincipal analyst, J. Gold Associates

Dropbox Business and Dropbox Enterprise also add new team folders that let IT grant and deny access to users both inside and outside of a company. To prevent data leakage, IT can set team folders to have individual sharing policies, and admins can control what content does and doesn't automatically sync locally with users' endpoints.

"Automatic sync is the last thing you want if you're IT," Gold said. "What exactly is syncing and where does it go?"

In the future, Dropbox said it will add the ability for IT to limit the number of devices that can sync to shared Dropbox folders.

With vendors such as Box, Microsoft, Google, VMware and Citrix in the file sync-and-share market, there is more competition for Dropbox than ever before. These vendors have been more business-focused than Dropbox, leaving the company to play catch-up.

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