Box, Microsoft to sell file sharing service on Microsoft Azure

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(Bloomberg) -- Box Inc. and Microsoft Corp. will sell a version of Box’s file-sharing and storage service using Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, expanding their partnership in an effort to reach more large corporate customers.

Box will also consider using some of Microsoft’s cloud-based artificial intelligence services for tasks such as indexing video and translating text in files.

Seattle-based Microsoft is trying to narrow Amazon Web Services’ considerable lead over Azure, and Box wants to expand sales after reaching a cash-flow profitability milestone earlier this year. The two companies have many customers in common, but at the same time, Microsoft’s OneDrive product competes with Box, and Box also uses Inc.’s AWS to back up the data it stores.

"While we do overlap and compete in some areas, we complement each other 10 times more," said Box co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Aaron Levie, noting that most of Redwood City, California-based Box’s large customers also use Microsoft’s Office cloud products.

For its main product, Box currently uses a combination of its own data centers and Amazon to store data. Box also offers a service called Zones, which lets customers choose where to store their data from among eight local regions. That service relies on Amazon and International Business Machines Corp. because Box doesn’t operate international data centers. Over time, Box will want to expand Zones to offer services from all of Azure’s 40 different regions, Levie said.

The companies declined to name any likely customers for the new service, but Levie said Box has spent the past few quarters mentioning the idea to clients and assessing interest, which he said is significant.

For Microsoft, Box is the latest software vendor to announce services on Azure, a list that also includes Adobe Systems Inc. and DocuSign Inc., as it tries to add partners and products to match Amazon’s lengthy list and meet customer demand for a variety of cloud offerings.

"As companies look to make the journey to the cloud they are really looking for solutions that work end to end," said Microsoft cloud chief Scott Guthrie. "Enterprises want to integrate everything."

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