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Box boosts security in the cloud; SAP touts cloud planning

New encryption controls, launched about a month ago, are among four new product enhancements being offered by Box to boost security in the cloud.

At First American Equipment Finance, Box is available to all 150 employees in every department, from human resource managers to the CFO. Now the company has its eye on new security features the cloud storage provider is targeting to the financial services industry.

Box provides secure access and sharing of the company's files, including office and marketing documents as well as video content, from any device in any location, said Mark Tomaselli, CIO for First American Equipment Finance, based in Fairport, N.Y. The company started using Box in late 2011.

"HR and finance colleagues can now share and collaborate, internally and externally, while maintaining complete control over their data."

Tomaselli said he is looking forward to at least one new product improvement unveiled by Box, which is ramping up security in the cloud.

He said the company might benefit from a product enhancement called enterprise key management. It gives organizations another layer of security in the cloud by allowing them to maintain control over their encryption keys without giving up the ability to share and manage documents inside of Box.

 "We really like the fact that with Box, our data is not only natively encrypted in transit and at rest, but now also provides us with complete control over the keys rather than relying on third parties," he said.

Tomaselli said the company currently uses Box as an extension of its traditional on-premises file servers.

Product improvements for Box

The new Box encryption controls, launched about a month ago, are among four new enhancements being offered to boost security in the cloud that help financial services companies share sensitive records securely and comply with industry regulations.

An additional improvement allows brokerages or other securities dealers to comply with a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority requirement to retain and index electronic records for certain periods of time in formats that cannot be rewritten or erased. The Box product will allow IT managers to apply custom retention policies to individual files.

Another upgrade to security in the cloud would provide watermarking for documents that are stored and shared via Box, which is headquartered in Los Altos, Calif.

Other retention management improvements would allow organizations to create and store financial documents, tag them for retrieval and set policies for how long they are kept in Box.

Tomaselli said First American is thrilled with Box's service and that he especially likes the vendor's progressive approach to building its platform.

First American is in the process of integrating Box as its main document repository for financial transactions. The recent product enhancements could allow First American to continue to execute on its vision by eliminating many of the security concerns raised by clients, Tomaselli said.

"It demonstrates a commitment to us that Box is focused on establishing deep relationships with their customers by addressing their specific industry needs, as opposed to putting out a generic product and requiring everyone to adapt it to the needs of their business."

SAP unveils new cloud financial planning and analysis software

Enterprise software provider SAP is touting collaboration and advanced analytics as key features of its new cloud financial planning and analysis software.

Called SAP Cloud for Planning, the software-as-a-service application is built on the German vendor's real-time HANA database platform and is part of the company's efforts to produce its own cloud software.

In an interview, Karuna Mukherjea, an SAP senior director, said Cloud for Planning comes with embedded analytics, allowing financial planning and analysis to be completed within the same application.

"It's very important that we merge the two within the same system, giving the user the power to analyze the planning information, all within the same system, completely integrated," said Mukherjea, who leads product marketing for Cloud for Planning.

Whenever a new factor is driving sales planning, leaders can use the software to predict its effect on revenues and see the numbers on a dashboard, for example.

Mukherjea said the software also provides a Facebook-like "consumer social experience" for budget planners and analysts. This occurred partly because the design team was embedded in the development team from inception, and focused on user simplicity.

A budget planner, for example, could make changes in revenue projections in a report and take a snapshot of the report and share the information with another planner. Financial planners can also text and message other planners from within the application, she said

"Users have the ability to share information, share reports, share certain metrics ... to really make the process more powerful and provide instant impact."

The software can be operated in the cloud or integrated with an existing on-premises system.

In the announcement, SAP said HANA is an important advantage.

Dave Williams, vice president of analytics at SAP, said the HANA platform provides the power and performance to plan at any level of detail in real time. In addition, the compression capabilities save the user money, since most cloud vendors charge for data storage and have a larger data footprint, Williams said.

SAP said Cloud for Planning is targeted at companies with annual sales of $200 million or higher.

Next Steps

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