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Dropbox Acquires MobileSpan to Secure Mobile Enterprise Productivity

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Dropbox has acquired network access start up MobileSpan for an undisclosed amount in a deal announced on Tuesday. MobileSpan will continue to function until the end of the calendar year, when all four employees will join the technology they developed with Dropbox For Business.

MobileSpan enables BYOD access through the enterprise firewall, an approach it refers to as “Uncloud.” By installing the companies’ software on both the corporate server and a mobile device, MobileSpan was able to provide enough security and control to make BYOD-use practical.

“MobileSpan Gateway and the MobileSpan apps for iOS and Windows allow secure ad-hoc access to business content and editing of Office documents living behind the corporate firewall with native UX on each platform,” MobileSpan said in the announcement on its website. “Yet we still have some ways to go before business content is freed from its desktop-focused roots and is made readily usable yet secure on modern mobile devices.”

The move could make Dropbox an option for a huge number of businesses who have previously been resistant to letting employees use the leading mobile storage solution.

Dropbox began a partnership with Dell late in 2013 as part of its strategy to go from one of the solutions most commonly blocked by enterprise to one used by enterprise. It also expanded its collaboration toolikit by acquiring secure messaging startup DropTalk last week.

Dropbox has suffered an outage, a DMCA takedown controversy, and a security vulnerability earlier this year. These public relations issues could be seen as part of the risk inherent in truly mobile cloud storage, or Dropbox falling victim to its own success and rapid growth.

Regardless of that perception, employee mobile device use is forcing enterprises to find ways to let BYOD onto the network, and Dropbox is positioning itself to enable that shift.

Other approaches to maintaining security and control with a mobile workforce include multi-factor authentication, which has been gaining popularity, and Cisco’s Desktop as a Service approach, which was launched late last year.

About the Author

Chris Burt is a WHIR contributor and writer of both fiction and non-fiction. He can be found on Twitter @afakechrisburt.

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