Amazon Zocalo: disrupting cloud storage, collaboration, and Desktop as a Service

Amazon Zocalo: What is it?

Amazon’s document-sharing service Zocalo might look like a deceptively simple addition to its growing portfolio of cloud services, but a closer look conveys a different picture. It is attacking incumbents from three different market segments: document storage and sync, collaboration, and Desktop as a Service. Zocalo will also help Amazon cement its relationship with enterprise IT. This service has the potential to attract a new set of customers who have never considered using the public cloud.
Cloud storage: Dropbox and Box
Zocalo is a document-storage-and-sharing service powered by the massively scalable S3 storage engine. Customers will be able to upload, share, and sync files across their machines and devices. This marks the official entry of Amazon into the world of share-and-sync services dominated by Dropbox and Box. Although Amazon Cloud Drive has been available since 2011, it is meant for consumers to store digital music and photos.
Collaboration: MS SharePoint, MS Office 365, and Google Apps for Business
Zocalo supports the editing of documents in the cloud without the need of Microsoft Office. Amazon has integrated simple workflows into Zocalo in the form of approvals and reviews. Users can store and retrieve multiple versions of the same document. The annotations and comments made while in the cloud are retained when the same document is opened locally in Microsoft Word. It offers a round-trip experience between the cloud and local devices. Many enterprise customers use Microsoft SharePoint for document management and collaboration. The in-place document-editing capabilities resemble Google Docs.
Desktop as a Service (DaaS): Citrix and VMware
Zocalo becomes Amazon’s differentiator in the Desktop-as-a-Service market. By bringing Amazon WorkSpaces and Zocalo together, Amazon has shown commitment in the DaaS segment. With BYOD gaining acceptance by enterprise IT, end users want to access their My Documents folder from any device. The files that are created through the cloud-based desktop need to be accessible from multiple devices, including smartphones and tablets. To enable this scenario, Citrix acquired ShareFile some time before announcing its DaaS plans. VMware Horizon DaaS exposes this capability through AirWatch Secure Content Locker.

Amazon Zocalo: How does it work?

Zocalo is an enterprise-grade sync service that competes with Dropbox for Business and Box. By providing audit trails with Active Directory integration and role-based security, Amazon’s Zocalo is an assault on Box, which is dreaming of becoming the primary choice of enterprise cloud storage. Box just received $150 million in funding from TPG Growth & Coatue Management. So close to its IPO, Box has a new competitor to contend with.
With Zocalo offering basic document repositories, search, and collaboration, customers will find it a lightweight alternative to SharePoint. The price point of $5 per user per month for 200 GB makes it attractive. Amazon could add support for additional file formats, like Photoshop, for viewing and editing online. By throwing in a SharePoint connector, Zocalo may become the cloud extension to on-premise SharePoint deployments. This poses a serious threat to both Microsoft and Google, which are already fighting to win the enterprise market for document management and collaboration.
Zocalo now plugs one of the gaps identified in our “Sector RoadMap: virtual desktops in 2014” by providing integrated enterprise file-sync-and-storage services for Amazon WorkSpaces. The WorkSpaces Sync tool that synchronizes local documents with the cloud is going to be renamed Zocalo Client to avoid any confusion. WorkSpaces customers get 50 GB of Zocalo storage per user per month included, with an option to upgrade to 200 GB for $2 per user per month. In the future, Zocalo may support remote wipe and deletion and mobile-application push, which brings mobile device management capabilities to WorkSpaces.

Amazon Zocalo: now what?

This is a smart move by Amazon. Zocalo is an indication of Amazon’s ambitious plan to become the one-stop shop for enterprise IT. By integrating document storage and sync with online editing and collaboration and Active Directory support, Zocalo extends cloud capabilities to existing on-premise solutions. This integration with WorkSpaces pushes Amazon into the league of top DaaS players. AWS will continue to move up the stack to offer every component of Enterprise IT as a Service. It may not be surprising if Amazon starts to offer email, ERP, CRM, and SCM services in the future.