Box to Let Overseas Customers Store Files Locally in Privacy Bid

  • Company will use Amazon, IBM datacenters in Europe and Asia
  • First regions will be Ireland, Germany, Japan, Singapore

Box Inc., trying to lure more international customers, will offer overseas clients concerned about privacy the option to store information locally in cloud datacenters belonging to Inc. or International Business Machines Corp.

Starting in May, Box Zones will give customers the choice of locating their files in Germany, Ireland, Japan, and Singapore. The company plans to add more regions in the future, said Chief Executive Officer Aaron Levie in an interview, and is looking at further choices in Europe and Asia as well as adding Australia and Latin America.

Customers, particularly in some parts of Europe and South America, face laws that require certain types of data to be stored in their country or have strong preferences for that. Storage closer to the customer can also speed up computing. Box runs data centers in the U.S. but didn’t want to incur the costs of building out internationally to attract these customers, and it’s cheaper to pay Amazon and IBM to use their facilities, Levie said.

"There’s still been a barrier for some international customers for key types of data or workflows where they haven’t been able to move to the cloud as aggressively as they otherwise would have," said Levie. He declined to name specific customers but cited types like financial institutions in France and German automakers.

Box started looking at the issue five to six years ago and opted for this strategy in about 2014, he said. Since then the company has been working to make changes to its product to allow a single client to store files in multiple countries, to accommodate multinational customers. The company will probably also expand to other cloud datacenter providers, Levie said.

In February, rival Dropbox Inc said it will allow customers to store their files at Amazon’s datacenter in Germany by the third quarter.

A European high court last October threw out an agreement governing data transfer between Europe and the U.S. saying it didn’t safeguard privacy sufficiently. The U.S. and European Union reached a new deal in February, preventing technology companies from being placed in a legal limbo regarding the passage of data. However individual countries and industries still have what are called data residency requirements that govern where files can be stored.

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