The storage wars are also heating up, pitting Dropbox and Google head-to-head. Dropbox has a service for enterprise clients, named Dropbox for Business, which pitches itself as a "secure file sharing and storage solution that employees love and IT admins trust", offering an individual Dropbox for each user with 1TB of space.
Google has a similar offering and can use its other sources of revenue to undercut Dropbox's pricing strategy, as it already does. Dropbox started as a consumer company and so its transition to enterprise has been delayed, but offers a wide range of external plugins via its API which can expand its usefulness to business tenfold.
Google is also fighting with Box on another front, namely online collaboration software. With Google Docs, the web giant pioneered the collaborative online workplace where multiple people could work alongside each other iterating on a document – a feature we use here at TechRadar, no less.
Box takes this a step further by attempting to own the whole experience, creating an almost operating system-like user experience on the internet which can work with any kind of document. Box lists some of its strength as File Sharing, Online Collaboration, File Synchronisation and Policy and Workflow Management, and already has over 57,000 paying organisations using its services.
In 2014 Box released its S1 filings to the SEC declaring its interest in an IPO, raising extra capital to accelerate its growth. Indeed, Box says that if it didn't invest so heavily in growth the company would be profitable (as it is, Box made a loss of $45.4 million – around £30 million, AU$55 million – in Q3 2014, the last declared earnings). That Box is even looking at an IPO shows its intent to stick around, as opposed to being acquired, and fight its corner for a long time to come.
Enterprise is the future
Microsoft has had a change of leadership and is now looking to expand its consumer and enterprise software concurrently. As Mary Jo Foley put it, "Microsoft's enterprise offerings continue to carry the day," bringing in over $14 billion (around £9 billion, AU$17 billion) in Q4 2014. While Microsoft's future may lie with wearables or health in terms of relevancy to the consumer, its fiscal future could lie with enterprise and Satya Nadella knows this.
Instead of specialising in one sector, Microsoft attempts to cover them all and it seems to be working. As enterprise isn't generally considered as "sexy" as consumer technology (with the exception of Box) far less attention is paid to it, especially in the tech press, and so it is easy to let Microsoft's innovations go unnoticed – but 2014 witnessed updates to nearly all of the company's main enterprise offerings.
Microsoft's Azure competes directly with Amazon Web Services, offering online hosting for all kinds of companies. 2014 saw a price battle between the two giants, propped up by revenue from other sources. In many ways, this is what separates Amazon, Microsoft and Apple from Dropbox and Box: while the latter have to 'bootstrap' themselves from existing revenue, the former all have strong revenue streams established that can be used to invest in new technologies. Apple's iPhone, for example, brings in north of $100 billion (around £66 billion, AU$121 billion) per year which can be reinvested in new technology, some of which is applicable to enterprise.
The war for the consumer is over, but the war for enterprise is hotting up and these companies are at the forefront of what is going to occur in 2015 and beyond. We will likely see IPOs, buyouts and more, as new products are released almost daily. There has never been a better time to have an interest in enterprise.