(Bloomberg) -- Three years ago, Box Inc. Chief Executive Officer Aaron Levie pledged that his cloud-computing storage startup would take customers from International Business Machines Corp. Now Levie has signed a broad partnership with the 104-year-old company to gain entry with more large customers.
The two companies will work together on product development, sales and consulting, Levie and Bob Picciano, senior vice president, IBM Analytics, said in an interview. Box will integrate IBM content management software and enable customers to use IBM’s analytics tools. Box customers will be able to store content in IBM’s cloud and gain the help of IBM’s consultants, the companies announced Wednesday.
Box, which sold shares to the public in January, is trying to add large corporate customers, an area where IBM has long and extensive contacts. IBM, in turn, has joined partnerships with companies such as Apple Inc. and Twitter Inc. to spark new business for its cloud-computing and data-analytics services as it tries to turn around three straight years of falling revenue.
“IBM is essentially in every large enterprise we tend to go after, especially given the kinds of markets we are focused on -- things like health care, financial services and government,” Levie said.
Box exceeded sales estimates in its previous quarter, but the Los Altos, California-based company is still losing money as it seeks to win over more corporate customers.
The agreement allows Box clients to store content on IBM’s cloud infrastructure -- an area where IBM still lags behind its competitors. Meanwhile, customers will be able to use tools like IBM’s Watson analytics technology and threat detection security software on content stored in Box’s products.
The companies declined to disclose financial terms of the agreement.
While IBM has software for analytics and collaboration, Picciano said it can benefit from Box’s programs that are easy to use for cloud sharing.
“IBM has excelled at having that capability in the enterprise but not necessarily opening it up to the same degree of freedom and sharing and interaction and personalization,” he said.
The companies started talking seriously late last year, although Levie joked that he initially reached out seven years ago when his company was too new to garner any attention from a company of IBM’s size and importance. As for Levie’s former desire to take customers from Armonk, New York-based IBM, he said the market has changed and so has Box.
“It’s critical that vendors embrace openness and interoperability to deliver the best experiences for customers,” he said.
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