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Introducing Zocalo from Amazon

Amazon has announced a brand new cloud-based service that they hope will capture the ever growing enterprise storage and collaboration market. Amazon Zocalo is the name of the service and it is currently in limited preview.

Zocalo translates from Spanish into square or place and it is a service that is targeted at enterprise users. It will allow PC, Mac and on-the-go device (like tablets) users to comment on files in the cloud, upload them to get feedback and also control the versions. IT admins will be pleased to hear that the service integrates well with existing directories and audit logs and it’ll let them set the sharing policies and determine where files are sent. They also have full control over what and how users can share the data.

Zocalo is different to standard cloud services like Google Drive or Dropbox because the emphasis is on collaboration and editing (although those services do still offer similar features). Users can load up the data and preview or comment on the file, regardless of whether they have the software that created the file – that includes PDFs, websites, images, text files and Office files.

Users also have the ability to set up notifications for reviewing deadlines. There is also a client that allows for automated, encrypted uploads – which will then be synced across various devices.

The service will cost $5 per user per month and includes 200GB of storage space. There is currently a 30 day free trial for up to 50 users, with an offer of 200GB per user. Increased storage can be purchased as and when it’s needed and there’s currently no maximum limit. Existing Amazon WorkSpaces customers will get the service for free, with 50GB of storage that can be upped to the standard 200GB for $2 a month. As it stands, the preview requires that users (who will need an Amazon Web Services account) fill out a form and join a waiting list.

“Customers have told us that they’re fed up with the cost, complexity, and performance of their existing old guard enterprise document and collaboration management tools,” said Noah Eisner, GM for Zocalo, who hopes that their service provides the solution.

“What we're seeing here is Amazon actively trying to get deeper into its AWS customers' pockets,” said Charles King, an analyst from Pund-IT. “Amazon has done really well when it enters a market early, [while] the storage and sync business is about seven years old, so Amazon is getting here really, really late.”

Of course, competitors like Microsoft and Google will be sure to keep an eye on Zocalo. Cloud storage is a highly competitive market and these firms will be willing to compete in price wars to gain and retain customers. As it stands, Microsoft offers 1TB of storage for $2.50 per user per month and Google offers unlimited storage for $10 per user per month.

“The real issue here is for vendors like DropBox, Box, et cetera that charge for storage,” said Ajay Gavagi, an analyst at IDC. “Pure play file sync and share vendors will have to differentiate through value-added services to stay relevant in this market.”

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