Dropbox Business Panel – Q and A with Dropbox Migration experts

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Dropbox Business Panel – Q and A with Dropbox Migration experts

On Tuesday 23rd October 2018, Ingram Micro held their Go Infinite Summit in Melbourne. Ingram Micro Cloud Summit 2018 Australia is a targeted and focused Cloud event, designed to help partners understand disruptive technologies and trends in the world of cloud computing.

On the agenda was a Dropbox Business seminar, where Dropbox discussed the great collaborative and security features in their product. As part of the seminar, I was invited on stage to discuss Dropbox Business and how, as a Select Partner, Dropbox was helping us as a business and our clients. Below is a transcript of the discussion. Joining me on stage was Brock Fisher – Dropbox Business Account Manager, James Bomford from Right Click IT, and Ruben Garcia Mohedano, a Dropbox Solutions Architect.

Please note: The transcript may be modified slightly due to poor audio or grammatical errors (thank you Grammarly), however the “vibe” of the discussion has remained intact.

Yener Adal at the Dropbox Business Event
Left to Right (Yener Adal, Ruben, James and Brock)


Brock: We have James, we have Ruben and we have Yener.  Now I have a few questions.  The idea is that we are going to spend half an hour having a chat with them. I will go through some kind of softball questions for them where they say some wonderful things about my product and afterwards you will have the opportunity to ask them some questions as well.  How about we get started.  James, do you want to do a really quick intro about yourself and your business and maybe any recent changes that you’ve made.

James:  Yeah, cool.  So, our business is a managed services provider and we have always been a managed services provider.  We have been in business for probably about eight years now and we have seen the growth and move away from on-prem solutions all the way through to cloud-based solutions and we have assisted our clients in moving from the on-prem to cloud-based systems.  We have recently changed our focus and we now concentrate on the building and construction industry rather than businesses of any type.

Ruben: My name is Ruben. I joined Dropbox about three years ago and I am part of the solutions update team or solutions engineering team for this event.  My role primarily is working with our executives and our channel team and our partners to help them push the business forward in terms of business development and also working a lot with our technology partnerships such as things like Intex or AutoCAD or any technology communicating with Dropbox.

Yener:  We are a managed services provider as well.  We are having our 10 year anniversary this year.  The main focus for us is not too dissimilar from James’s focus.  We have noticed that a lot of businesses are moving away from servers on-site and we thought it would be very important to jump onto the cloud.  I suppose a thing that is different for us and in recent years, we also have a development arm to our business so we are looking to see how we can use those developers, the skills that they have to talk to APIs like Dropboxes and other providers to automate and make things work more efficiently for our customers.

Brock: James, why did you start with Dropbox?

James:  So it has been very interesting because obviously, we had file servers and that sort of thing and we eventually moved a lot of our clients to Office 365 and hosted Exchange but we still had the issue of files within businesses so we moved them to NASs of space server so they would have an attached storage device in their office and the client could come in and use that or they would VPN in and use that particular device.  We branched out a couple of times and we tried a couple of different hosted file systems, Trend had one which was Safe Sync, which was, Trend’s not in the room hopefully, it was a disaster, it was just a nightmare and so we actually took our clients off that and put them back on a NAS.  It wasn’t until I had a call from Dropbox and our Dropbox business that I pretty much queried them and I said, look, these are the issues that we have that you don’t have when you have don’t have a NAS in the office, why would I go down the Dropbox path?  What happened is that we looked at the security side of things and the integration into Office 365 but also the way you could collaborate so you could use the files online and multiple people could be in the same file at the same time which you couldn’t do with NAS and the other issue was multiple people accessing the file at the same time causing conflicts.  So Dropbox has the Dropbox badge which enabled our clients to understand and know that other people were using the file or wanting to use the file or already in the file, or whatever it was.  It was at that point that we said, alright, we feel comfortable moving our clients from a complete on-prem solution to Dropbox as a file system and collaborative tool.

Brock: Yener, what was your story?

Yener:  Before Dropbox Business was around, we used another product called Syncplicity.  They are still around in one shape or another and it made sense for a lot of our clients to move their files to the cloud but again, as James said, conflicts were an issue.  You wanted to know if someone had that excel spreadsheet open already.  Our guys spent time writing macros to alert customers that someone had just opened this file and it was a pain.  When Dropbox Business came out, the beauty of it was, everyone already had Dropbox on their computer, they’d already heard about it and it was an easy sell, you’d just say well you’ve got Dropbox already, have you heard of Dropbox Business?  You will get all the security and permissions and functionality that you need to manage a business’ files and it was a no-brainer.

Brock: Anything you are using in particular now, any particular features that you’ve gone “oh shit, this is quite a good?.

Yener:  I suppose a favourite feature which is for me a very very simple one but a very powerful one is, like most MSP’s, we produce monthly reports for our clients.  We used to just email them out and we wouldn’t think twice about it until the monthly meeting.  Now we use Dropbox Business, we have a folder for every client, drop the reports in there and then we can see if they have read them.  Has this client viewed it, have they opened that file?  That is really powerful for us because we know what is working, what is not working and we can adjust the reports accordingly.

Brock: Nice.  Ruben, you know this product extremely well and I guess probably the original idea of Dropbox was a place to put your files and access them on different devices.  What do you see is the future of Dropbox, what’s the main thing besides the Dropbox Business that may be a lot of MSPs don’t realise?

Ruben:  It’s a good question because Dropbox has come a very long way since it started.  It was many years ago, it was pretty much the first company that would host files in the cloud on a large scale, massive scale and we’ve also over the years we’ve moved from keeping people in sync to keeping teams in sync.  We believe we are no longer just a place where you can access your files. We take that for granted.  We do that really well but we go always one step further which is helping simplify your experience so we can minimise work, we can give you the files you need before you even know that they are there right, and this is all a part of the contextual area of Dropbox, but also where Dropbox connects to, are applications are consistently so massive that you can really have files working from services industries to construction industry, they are speaking to each other so sales force and creative team can be speaking together.  So we see ourselves more and more and more being that partner that companies connected to find contextual files.

Brock: James was saying when we were chatting earlier on the stand that restricted sign-on has been an absolute game changer for you.

James: Yes, so a lot of our clients want to retain their intellectual property and moving to a cloud-based service like Dropbox Business all of a sudden employees had their own password, they could log in online, they could download the files wherever they wanted, there was no real restriction.  So what we’ve done is we’ve bundled Dropbox in with Office 365 and Azure Enterprise security and we do conditional access.  So we have 70 employees within that organisation that cannot use any cloud apps outside of the actual office that they work from.  So it limits that leak of data.

Brock: James, I am going to chuck one more to you.  You have been in the partner program for a little while, change in its nature, change in its resources, I mean it’s obviously helped with your customers, but what are some of the other benefits that you get?  I guess we are kind of looking at, I am absolutely going to feed you the answers here, around the margin, the co-selling, the resources, the account management, that sort of thing?

James: So partners get, is it 20%?

Brock: Yes it is James.

James:  Yeah, so we get 20%.  There is the Dropbox Academy which is an online resource and training facility where we can log in and we can actually do our training online and see what information there is on Dropbox.  There are also auctions.  As we build up our points system when we are selling Dropbox, we can use those points to bid on an online auction to increase our fun in the office in prizes.

Brock: That comes to the end of our hard-hitting journalism part of the panel and thank you for answering my question there.  Yener, one for you, you know we have talked about the trend moving purely to cloud.  Do you see Australia being an adopter in this space or a bit of a lager when compared to other countries?  We talked about that slide where 50% of businesses have damn near all moved to cloud.  Is this something you’ve seen?

Yener: Yes, it’s a discussion we have with clients all the time.  Obviously, ones that still have on-prem servers, about what’s next, the server’s coming to end of life, what do we do?  I think the last time, probably about 5 years ago, you were probably pretty safe to say on-prem, move your email off to Office 365 or G suite or whatever it might be but now the discussion is completely different.  How many things can we get off your on-prem and go to the cloud?  And they are ready to embrace it.  I think in the last two years it has been “I’m not too sure about the cloud”.  And now the discussion is “Right, where can we go?” And that seems to be the trend that we are seeing.

Brock: How are you making money out of the cloud side of things?

Yener: Well, it used to be better when it was all on-prem that’s for sure but I suppose it’s how you can adjust to it so for us Dropbox is a great product but really it’s a door opener.  People know about Dropbox, they search about Dropbox Business, they might come to our website and we are happy to sell the product, good product, but then it’s right, what about who is going to set up your environment for you, who is going to set up the permissions, what other support do you need on the desktop, what services do you still have to be on-prem?  It’s really a way to get in the door and sell our support services and that’s really important.  I think early on we were very worried about the cloud and how it was going to affect everything but once you embrace it and you can find a good product to partner with like Office 365, Dropbox then it can make it a lot easier to embrace the cloud.

James: I am going to touch on a couple of things there as well.  Going into clients and talking to clients about the various applications that they use because we have gone into clients and we are finding out “oh, they are using Product X” well let’s integrate Product X into all these other systems you are using and let’s set up Single Sign-On and conditional access and employees at home to access and from these other locations.  So it’s opening doors and actually sitting down with clients and what other apps are you using, can we put them all under this security umbrella and can we help you control it with new business so you are protecting your IP and protect everything else that comes with it.  So you bundle that with your services, you bundle that with your service level agreements, you bundle that with the licences and the benefits that come with those and all of a sudden you have a neat little monthly package which enables the client to really get the best out of both worlds.

Brock: James, you talked about construction earlier, what is the thought about going from generalist to a little bit more niche or focused?

James:  Yeah, so beforehand I think I always focused on professional services so we always talked about you know we were an MSP for professional services but what was happening our value and our knowledge around AutoCAD and Dropbox and Office 365 and the integration and the security was embraced more by the building and construction industry so that’s when we thought well rather than spread everything thin, let’s concentrate on giving the building and construction industry the best service and the best of experience rather than spreading ourselves thin so we just focused on that.

Brock: Ruben, maybe flipping it around, we talked about what partners get out of Dropbox, but do you want to shed some light on where we see partners playing on the Dropbox side, what value we get?

Ruben: Sure, Dropbox, what we tend to see and feel that ‘damn this thing just works’, it’s very useful and friendly and they know how to use it because they even bring it to our team.  But we don’t understand every single customer intimately, that’s where we see the partners specific, very important for us.  They can help us with all the things that are required to set up Dropbox such as migration from on-prem to the cloud, implementing those tiered permission systems that they need, connecting Dropbox to work that customers specifically need.  Guiding hand in hand through their journey.  When that happens we tend to see over 92% adoption that’s one of the standards that we run with.  That is very important for us because usually experience comes first and client satisfaction comes first.  If they are not happy with the product, it can check easily for themselves, let’s get something else.  But that stickiness of this works very well, does what I need it to do, is efficient, is fast and is connected to what I need to be connected is super important and I think the partners are uniquely placed to deliver something like that.

Brock: Yener, over to you.  Talking about maybe 3, 4 maybe 5 years ago, people were like still on-prem, maybe 3 years ago, people not so sure, now they wholeheartedly embrace it.  Does this kind of give you an idea of where your business is going to be in 3, 4, 5 years.

Yener: Yes it does.  Obviously, I imagine the majority of our clients’ infrastructure will be in the cloud one way or the other.  It will make sure that all of our clients have very good internet connections, business grade internet connections, no one can live on ADSL anymore.  I just wanted to follow on from Ruben’s point about the integrations, if you can tie Dropbox with another integration that you offer, you will lock in that customer, not in a bad way, but you will make sure you are giving them a great product and great automation and it won’t be so easy for them to move on.  It’s important to provide them with that level of automation integration so they can work better so they will have no need to move on.

Brock: James, what is a typical Dropbox conversation with a customer?  Because you call me sometimes and you’re like yeah I just signed up two more customers.  And I’m like thank you but I have no idea what just happened.

James:  So the conversation with the customer does not revolve a lot of the time around Dropbox, it just revolves around the best solution.  So when we go into a client, we say right let’s talk about the best solution, let’s talk about protecting your intellectual property, let’s talk about flexibility, let’s talk about security so when we look at the benefits of a solution rather than the features of the solution.  The features tend to come later, the features come after you’ve implemented it and they go, “oh I can send a link to a big file to a client and I can receive a large file from a client all within the same system” so those features come later but the benefits are around as much space you need, the security and the integration, the boundaries that you can put around it, who can access what from where and so the conversation is around Dropbox but it’s about the benefits of having these types of solutions.  So, for the client it’s a no-brainer, they go, “wow, I can get all of this and I can get all of these systems for a neat monthly fee, it’s a no-brainer for me, I’m just going to sign up” and then we tell them oh yeah it’s from Dropbox Business – surprise! Haha  No obviously we have that conversation earlier but yes they’re the benefits.

Yener:  Just to follow on from that, unless they’ve heard about Dropbox Business and they’re approaching us for that, normally the conversation is, “we have all these files and we don’t know what to do with them, we’re worried, what happens if the server dies?”  And that’s where our conversations, well there are the ones who have heard of Dropbox and the ones that haven’t, and the ones that haven’t that’s the vast majority of how the conversation starts, they just want to make sure their files and data are protected.

James:  And another follow on from that is that sometimes when we go in and we talk about Dropbox, the client goes “well Dropbox is just for home users isn’t it, why would we use it in the business, how do we control stuff?” and that’s when you say Dropbox Business is vastly different to your personal version of Dropbox where the company actually owns, retains and protects the data whereas your personal Dropbox where that particular person owns that data.

Yener:  Yeah we see that too.

Brock: It’s probably a good opportunity if anyone in the crowd has a question for the panel.

Audience question:  Both of you mentioned that you’re Office 365 and so with that you get SharePoint.  A lot of our customers are like why would we buy another product when we already get Sharepoint?  How do you go with that?

James:  So with SharePoint comes certain restrictions.  So I found there were certain file types and certain characters don’t sync, there is a limitation on the amount of files that you can sync with Sharepoint as opposed to… so it sort of integrates with OneDrive and the features that Dropbox has which are LAN sync and Smart Sync.  Does everyone know about those or should I go a little more in-depth for those?  Most people know so I will just overview quickly.  So LAN sync is that the computers within the office will synchronise those files themselves internally and only one computer will actually synchronise with the internet so it saves on internet bandwidth and your Smart sync is you can have 2TB of data sitting in the cloud and all the files are resident to some point on your computer but it does a Delta sync whenever you open that file to actually download that entire file so you are saving space on your hard drives and you are saving speed when it comes to that sort of thing.  So it’s those extra features that I find are more beneficial than the SharePoint side of things.

Yener: SharePoint is also a different way of working.  Dropbox is what they’re used to, they have files on their computer, they can just work the way they are used to. We do SharePoint implementations as well but we do always preface it saying people will need training, make sure they are used to this but with Dropbox, they don’t need that, they just continue to work as they used to.

Ruben:  I will just add something quickly to that.  Microsoft is so prevalent everywhere.  Microsoft is a very interesting partnership because we are friends, in other words, we have an amazing partnership with them and you can actually host all your office and documents into Dropbox and do real-time authoring to Word or Excel or whatever but the file sits in Dropbox.  We also compete in some areas.  And we talk about pure files sync share, that is a specific feature, you cannot compare Dropbox Business to SharePoint, you need to put OneDrive and SharePoint together, that is more or less the equivalent to make a comparison.  What we tend to see is that customers they don’t necessarily use just SharePoint or OneDrive. They need to use both.  This makes it a half-baked solution. They kind of do everything they need to do in a single place by using Dropbox.  So that’s where Dropbox comes into play.  Normally when we speak with partners or resellers or even the customers, we actually ask them what features do you use from the Office 365 suite, do you use this for business or do you use Teams or do you use Slack?  So why are you paying for stuff you are not using?  That’s where the conversation sparks around why should I pay for Microsoft so much money if my return is just that little in terms of things they don’t need.  But if we talk about the features itself, those mentioned here are great examples.  I would say that our preview engine is a big advantage also.  Being able to share workup files, Photoshop, Illustrator, In-Design. Whatever you can think you can share without actually converting that into a third party format, PDF or JPEG and then go back and forth just makes it so easy.  We talk about going back and forth to get the job done, it’s minified and makes work much more efficient.

Brock: We have time for one more question.  Does anybody have another question?

Shall we skip to the drawer for the $200 voucher?  I am going to ask James to pick a number between 17 and 56.

James:  42.

Grant Meredith.  Congratulations!  Thank you to Dropbox, thank you all for attending and thank you to our panel who have taken the time out to come today.  If Dropbox resonates with you after this seminar, please do come and visit us at the stand.  We would love to sign you up if you are new to Dropbox.  Don’t forget we have some awesome promotions running at the moment.  By selling Dropbox at the moment, you get the first two months for free on your customer’s subscriptions so it is a great promotion to kick start selling Dropbox.  Thank you to Brock, James, Ruben, Yener, we really appreciate your time.


About the author

Yener is the founder and Managing Director of Intuitive IT. Prior to running his own business Yener worked for a number of corporate organisations where he gained invaluable experience and skills, as well as an understanding of how IT can complement and improve business outcomes.