Amazon takes on Google, Microsoft with new collaboration tool

The online retail giant launches Zocalo, a storage and sharing service designed for companies.

A screenshot from Zocalo. Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services, Amazon's cloud-computing arm, on Thursday launched a new cloud storage and sharing service, signaling the company's first steps into territory dominated by tech titans Google and Microsoft.

The service, called Zocalo, allows users to share files between desktop and mobile devices, and collaborate by highlighting content and adding notes. It's also integrated into Amazon Workspaces, a virtual desktop Amazon launched in March. These are enterprise cloud tools a company implements for its employees. Currently Amazon is only allowing a limited preview of Zocalo, but the service is global, according to a spokeswoman.

Cloud storage and collaboration have become popular services in recent years, with startups like Box and Dropbox leading the charge for working in the cloud, often painting Microsoft as a dinosaur with outdated office tools. The growing interest from the enterprise sector pushed Microsoft and Google to refine their cloud-computing services. Now Amazon -- which has gained steam in cloud computing with Amazon Web Services by powering well-known services like Netflix, Reddit, and Pinterest -- is trying to leverage its success in the industry for a piece of the collaboration tool market.

"Customers have told us that they're fed up with the cost, complexity, and performance of their existing old-guard enterprise document and collaboration management tools," Noah Eisner, general manager of Zocalo, said in a press release. "AWS was increasingly being asked to provide an enterprise storage and sharing tool that was easy to use, allowed users to quickly collaborate with others, and met the strict security needs of their organizations. That's what Amazon Zocalo was built to do."

To appease technology administrators at companies, Amazon is touting security features and the ability to integrate company directories. The service costs $5 per user per month and includes 200 gigabytes of storage. Workspaces customers get Zocalo for free with up to 50GB of storage, and then $2 a month for up to 200GB of storage.

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