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With Dropbox Groups, businesses can finally sort folders based on departments

Dropbox is rolling out a new feature called Groups and a related API that should make it easier for businesses to manage all of their content stored in Dropbox, the file-sync-and share company is set to reveal on Thursday.

The new feature is now available for Dropbox for Business customers and was supposedly the most requested feature Dropbox customers — now hovering at over 100,000 businesses — were calling for, explained Dropbox product manager Waseem Daher in an interview.

Groups supposedly lets users create folders that only members of the appropriate group should have access to. The idea is that businesses can set up folders based on their departments and then assign the right staff members to those folders, said Daher. Now, marketing departments can create folders that contain their related documents and only sales and marketing staff should be able to touch them.

If a company hires a new salesperson, that new employee will “just need to be added to the sales group and they will automatically get access to all the content they need for the job,” said Daher. The new Groups interface will supposedly give IT administrators a central hub to manage all those employees in one place, and if a company wants, it can set up group owners with the ability to manage those folders as opposed to only IT staff.

The new Group API that’s also being released is similar to the recently launched Dropbox for Business API in that the API will give developers a chance to create custom applications or modifications to the new Groups feature per the needs of their organizations.

Daher said the biggest feature developers could create with the new API would be a custom integration with their organizations’ active directory, which some IT admins use to keep track of where all their company resources, user data and related items are be located.

Additionally, a bunch of identity-management and security startups — including Okta, OneLogin and Ping Identity — are all working on their own integrations with the new Group API, which makes sense because these startups are aiming to protect companies from rouge employees who may try sneaking into places they shouldn’t be. All of these startups have some sort of integration with active directory as part of their own technology, so the hope is that with the Group API they can just “mirror that right into Dropbox,” said Daher.

The new Groups feature is another example of how Dropbox has been busy morphing from a cloud storage repository into more of a workplace hub, similar to the company’s rival Box.

For these cloud storage startups to grow and court big enterprise clients, they need to show that they have more to offer than just a place to hold documents, as exemplified by the similar file-sync-and-share startup Egnyte moving into the data analytics space.

With Dropbox Groups, businesses can finally sort folders based on departments originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015.

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