Amazon Entices Enterprises with Zocalo Cloud File Storage

By Pedro Hernandez

Amazon wants businesses to quit making the inbox the center of their file collaboration activities. The company's solution: Zocalo.

The new product is Amazon's answer to competing enterprise cloud storage offerings like Box, Dropbox for Business and Microsoft's OneDrive for Business. Zocalo, said Jeff Barr, Chief Evangelist for the Amazon Web Services, in a company blog post, "is a fully managed, secure document storage and sharing service designed specifically for the needs of the enterprise."

Client software for Windows 7 -- and Windows 7 only according to the company's FAQ -- and Mac OS X 10.7 (and later) keep files within a specified folder synced. Apps for iPads and Android enabled mobile device users to view and comment on files stored in Zocalo.

Amazon Zocalo costs $5 per user per month with 200 GB of cloud storage per user. The price dips to $2 per month for customers of Amazon WorkSpaces, the company's cloud-delivered VDI-like desktop computing service, for 200 GB of storage. Current WorkSpaces users are entitled to 50 GB of storage at no extra cost. Zocalo has a file size limit of up to 5 GB.

The product was inspired by the company's own inefficient, email-dependent attempts at collaboration, according to Barr.

"It is clear to me (and to my colleagues) that email inboxes are not appropriate venues for efficiently and securely sharing and reviewing complex documents," wrote Barr. "We decided to 'scratch our own itch' and to create a document hub that would relieve the load on our inboxes and also add some structure to the process."

In its commercial form, the technology provides businesses with a secure, mobile-friendly file sharing destination that emphasizes collaboration. Users can request feedback from colleagues, who in turn can use the built-in commenting capabilities to exchange thoughts and suggestions. Zocalo can natively render Microsoft Office documents, PDFs, text files and image formats.

Administrators can be assured that their data is safe, courtesy of robust access management controls and embedded security, added Barr.

"With centralized user management (optionally linked to your existing Active Directory) and tight control over sharing, Zocalo prevents boundaries from becoming accidentally blurred," he wrote. "All documents are stored in a designated AWS Region and transmitted in encrypted form," and administrators can disallow downloading for an extra measure of safety.

Zocalo is available now as a limited preview.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InfoStor. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

This article was originally published on July 11, 2014