Whether IT organizations like it or not, Dropbox has emerged as not just a mechanism for sharing files but, increasingly, a platform for developing cloud applications.
As part of a continuing effort to extend the appeal of Dropbox as a platform for cloud applications, Dropbox is making available three extensions to its Datastore application programming interfaces (APIs).
The three new API capabilities that Dropbox has exposed include the ability to share data between multiple users to create common workflow processes, the ability to invoke a Dropbox Datastore without requiring end users to log into their accounts, and Datastore webhooks that can be used to notify a developer whenever a Datastore associated with a particular end user is modified.
Sean Lynch, head of platform for Dropbox, says that, in effect, Dropbox is evolving into a file system in the cloud that developers inside and out of the enterprise can use to build applications via the APIs that Dropbox exposes.
In the case of Dropbox, the APIs the company exposes create the opportunity to develop many of the departmental-type applications in the cloud that once typically ran on Microsoft Access or Lotus Notes. The degree to which organizations are comfortable with that will, of course, vary widely. But as platforms such as Dropbox continue to gain critical mass in terms of the number of actual users, it’s only a matter of time before IT organizations themselves or “power users” inside their organizations start taking cloud services such as Dropbox to the next logical level.
The challenge then becomes not so much how to prevent that from happening as much as figuring out how and when to best apply those capabilities in a way that serves to boost productivity, without having to necessarily compromise security.