3desc - Fotolia

DropBox ups cloud collaboration with Project Infinite

Enterprise cloud collaboration is a major focus for Dropbox, with Project Infinite allowing users to access company files regardless of hard drive size

DropBox has held its first UK conference, positioning the file-sharing service as an essential tool for business collaboration.

The company unveiled Project Infinite, which enables people to share large documents even if their local PCs have little storage space.

“With Project Infinite, users are able to seamlessly and securely access all their company files in DropBox from the desktop, regardless of the size of their hard drives,” the company said.

DropBox has been steadily increasing its enterprise footprint. According to Dennis Woodside, COO of DropBox, the company has more than half a billion users worldwide, with more than 40% in Europe.

Woodside said 50% of Fortune 100 companies have a DropBox business deployment, including Hyatt, Expedia an News Corp. In the UK, a third of FTSE 100 have DropBox for business.

He said many companies need to share documents across their global supply chain. “It is hard to share documents externally. In the past, we relied on FTP [file transfer protocol], file servers or USB sticks, but they were not secure.”

Woodside also said DropBox has three billion connections created for collaboration by its users.

Over the past few years, the company has shifted from file sharing and synchronisation to offering integration with software from Adobe and Microsoft, enabling users to preview DropBox documents in a browser window.

Read more about DropBox in the enterprise

Project Infinite is part of a move by the company to expand DropBox beyond cloud storage.

Ben Newhouse, engineering lead for Project Infinite, said: “Local hard drives can’t keep up. We began in 2007 with the Magic Folder, which provides simple synchronisation. Now Project Infinite uses the cloud to sync on demand when a file opens.”

In effect, he said, a user can see all files on their local machine, but a file is only downloaded locally from DropBox if it is opened. “Project Infinite integrates deeply into the core of the operating system’s existing file system.”

The company also updated its application programming interfaces (APIs) with the addition of a file properties API, which it said enables users to add custom meta data to their documents. This meta data can then be used by third-party software.

Read more on Managing IT and business issues