Subscribers to RSG's ECM & Cloud File Sharing vendor evaluation research will recall one of the shortcomings of Box was that you could only store your files in a public cloud offered by Box via its US-based data centers.
Unlike many competitors, you could not store your files in a different storage environment or geographic region. This has proven a major deterrent to organizations in many geographies and industries working under strict security policies and data protection laws that defined where you could store your files.
Box Zones to the Rescue...Sort of
Box has announced Box Zones to address these shortcomings. You can now decide to store your files at alternative locations, on storage provided by AWS and IBM. Initially, you will be able to store it in Germany, Ireland, Singapore, and Japan. Both Amazon and IBM have data centers in many countries, so this list may soon expand.
In a way, Box has partially decoupled storage from the application and has given you alternatives. As a bonus for you the customer, you won’t have to worry about working directly with additional vendors; it will be transparent to you. But of course it will cost you over and above your regular Box subscription.
This is a good start, but if these sorts of capabilities are important to your enterprise, make sure you understand the broader picture. For example, even though the files can be stored in your region, they will still probably transit Box’s US-based servers, since lot of processing, such as workflows, happen there. So if you care only about storage location at rest, Box Zones could suffice, but if you also care about how the files travel in-transit, then you will need do do some more due diligence.
Also note that — unlike several competitors — Box is not yet fully decoupled. That is, Box won't let you plug in your own private cloud (even if from IBM or Amazon), which would give you an even more secure alternative.
How Is Dropbox Different?
In March of this year, Dropbox announced it was beginning to moving off AWS to build it’s own network and infrastructure to run it’s service.
Both Box and Dropbox probably took these decisions a while back and it shows how the two companies offering seemingly similar services have completely different strategies. Building servers, storage, and networks is very different from building business applications. Dropbox decided to concentrate on former, Box on latter. It’s difficult to say which strategy — going with your own cloud versus partnering with AWS/IBM — will prove better in the long run, but for now the focus of these companies seems pretty clear.
The good thing is that this marketplace has many options. But as you seek out your options, remember that "Cloud" and its different variations will have a huge impact on how you implement and use these products or services. Most vendors will throw terms such as Hybrid Cloud and Private Cloud at you. Make sure you understand what these concepts mean in real life, and more importantly what you actually need. We have a lot of resources —reports, advisories and tools — to help you.