Aaron Levie, the outspoken 30-year old CEO of Box, says he’s been noticing one major shift in the tech landscape from about a year ago that’s making life a lot easier for many cloud enterprise software providers: companies see the value in “cloud” software, saving a lot of time and energy in his pitch.
“We’re now past the time everybody had to pitch cloud,” Levie said during a fireside chat at Dreamforce, Salesforce’s big annual conference in San Francisco on Tuesday. “We’re finally at the point where we’re no longer debating the IT architecture. We know it’s cloud.”
Cloud software, the idea of delivering software over the internet, as opposed to installing in your own hard drive or on company servers, has been one of the biggest trends in tech over the past few years. Companies no longer have to spend massive upfront costs to install clunky enterprise software, and can get quick deployments and updates, which typically took months or even years with the old, on-premise software.
More time to innovate
Levie said this shift has allowed him to spend more time discussing actual value his software can bring to companies. “We’re at the point where innovation’s really going to explode because we’re not really wasting any time on stuff that doesn’t drive value for tech providers,” he said.
Levie pointed out the shift really started to happen about a year ago. That’s also around when Box signed GE as one of its customers, a deal in which GE agreed to deploy Box to more than 300,000 of its employees.
“That was like a stamp of approval,” Levie said. “If GE is going to be able to do everything in the cloud, then there’s no company that can’t put critical data or meaningful work in the cloud, the way like GE has.”
The concept of putting all files in the cloud, as opposed to storing them in their own data centers, is still a relatively new idea to many non-tech or highly regulated industries. Some argue a hybrid approach, where companies use both the cloud and on-premise solutions, is the better approach. But there’s no question cloud is quickly becoming a popular option to many companies, a point that Levie also made.
“There’s still the final group of customers – financial services, government – and some industries that haven’t been able to fully transform,” he said. “But by and large, the vast majority of the CIOs recognize they don’t want to be in the business of backing up servers, managing middle wear. When there’s a new problem, they don’t want to go spend a week just updating it to solve that, they want to be able to do it on-demand.”