This article is part of our Conference Coverage: Microsoft Ignite 2016 conference coverage

Microsoft unveils SharePoint integration – but is it enough?

SharePoint harks back to a pre-cloud era and Microsoft is desperate to modernise it with cloud integration – but can it compete with pure cloud rivals, Box and Dropbox?

Microsoft is re-inventing productivity and business process, said CEO Satya Nadella.

He said SharePoint, combined with OneDrive, enables staff to securely access information.

In a video posted on the Microsoft website, Nadella said: “As I talk with organisations around the world, it is clear they are not coping with the explosion of digital data – and that manifests itself as employees struggle to find and act on the information they need.

"We are continuing to advance SharePoint, OneDrive and the entire Office 365 service in ways that make productivity even more collaborative, intelligent, mobile and trustworthy.”

The company is bridging SharePoint and OneDrive with the ability to share and co-author documents more easily, to reduce proliferation of different versions of the document and ensure a single source of truth.”

It is also sharing the same code between the on-premise SharePoint server software and SharePoint Online, along with integration between the cloud and on-premise environments.

Big users of SharePoint include retailer Marks & Spencer, which has also deployed Office 365, Yammer and Skype for Business.

But it still appears to be playing catch-up against pure cloud rivals such as Box and DropBox.

The company will synchronise OneDrive and SharePoint by the end of the year, as well as providing mobile accesses to on-premise SharePoint libraries.

Read more about cloud collaboration

  • Enterprise cloud collaboration is a major focus for Dropbox, with Project Infinite allowing users to access company files regardless of hard drive size.
  • The future for Box is one where governance is strong – the firm launched its dedicated Box Governance product last year – and there is also encryption key functionality here too.

Pure cloud immune to legacy

But pure cloud services avoid the legacy of on-premise collaboration, and so can provide access to documents from anywhere.

For instance, DropBox recently unveiled Project Infinite, which it claims to "re-imagine" how teams find, access and collaborate with large amounts of data in their Dropbox.

“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. IT managers appreciate Project Infinite’s cross-platform support and backwards compatibility,” DropBox chief operating officer, Dennis Woodside, wrote in a recent blog post.

Similarly, rival Box argues that its version of cloud collaboration focuses on openness: “Content management and collaboration is a multi-billion dollar market, and while we may compete around the edges with Microsoft, the overwhelming demand from customers is for openness,” Aaron Levie, cofounder and CEO, Box, said in response to the Microsoft news.

"By opening up Office 365 to Box and other players, Microsoft is making it easier for customers to work with the platforms they choose. And with more than 59% of the Fortune 500 as Box customers, and 11 years of leadership in innovating in the cloud, we're in a great position to keep pushing the industry ahead and transforming the way people work."

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