April 10, 2013, 2:29 PM — Dropbox, whose cloud storage and file-sharing application has been adopted by millions of consumers, will add single sign-on (SSO), its latest feature for businesses as it seeks to penetrate the workplace market.
The company announced on Wednesday that its product will let IT departments tie it to their identity authentication systems. That way, IT departments will be able to include Dropbox in the set of applications that end users log on to automatically when they sign in once with their main credentials.
Dropbox expects to add the feature next month. The company is working with a variety of identity vendors including Ping Identity, Okta, OneLogin, Centrify, and Symplified, and it's using the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) standard for its implementation.
"For users, SSO means ease -- one fewer password to remember and one fewer step to get to your work. Once logged in to your system, there's no need to sign in to Dropbox separately," wrote Dropbox official Anand Subramani in a blog post.
"For IT admins, SSO means additional security and administrative management. Single sign-on gives you complete ownership of the authentication process and works with your company's existing password policies. It also easily ties into the existing Dropbox provisioning and de-provisioning API to provide further Active Directory integration," he wrote.
Forrester Research analyst Rob Koplowitz said the move represents a significant step for Dropbox as it aims to increase its use among businesses, especially large ones.
"This is pretty big news. Single sign on is a core enterprise requirement and Dropbox providing it signals that they are taking the enterprise seriously," he said via email. "With the number of users they have, that could represent a big market disruption."
According to Dropbox, its application is used in 95 percent of the Fortune 500 companies, and in 2 million businesses overall, which save more than 600 million files in Dropbox every week.
As it makes a push to the enterprise market, Dropbox will run head on into Box, another cloud storage and file sharing vendor that has been courting large companies for several years, as well as other vendors like Accellion, EMC's Syncplicity, YouSendIt and Citrix's Sharefile.