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How Amazon Zocalo compares to other collaboration tools

Amazon jumped on the collaboration bandwagon with Zocalo. How does this AWS Service differ from Microsoft SharePoint or Dropbox?

Collaboration is an integral part of business, but it can be difficult to manage. Collaboration tools such as Microsoft...

SharePoint offer features suited for complex collaboration tasks, often in large enterprises. However, many projects do not require such a wide range of tools. Amazon Zocalo is a low-cost document collaboration service targeting small to medium-sized collaboration tasks or one-off projects.

While Zocalo has more features than limited collaboration services such as Dropbox or Google Drive, it has fewer bells and whistles than a fully featured document management system like SharePoint. Users access Amazon Zocalo documents through a central hub, where they can view files they own or they need to review. The service also provides email notifications for review requests.

Collaborators can set review deadlines -- any document pending review can be tracked from the central hub. All comments made on a document are consolidated onto a single webpage, which eliminates the need for someone to consolidate changes manually from multiple users. Zocalo also keeps all previous versions of files, a useful feature when users need to roll back changes or review comments and edits made during the revision process.

Users can upload files to Amazon Zocalo by dragging and dropping from the desktop; supported file types include those with extensions .doc, .docx, .xls and .xlsx. The document service also supports multiple device types and has mobile clients for iPad, Android and Kindle Fire.

Amazon Zocalo security and policies

As you increase the number of collaborators and share documents with business partners outside the organization, it's important to consider access controls on documents. In Zocalo, administrators set file-sharing policies. Files may be set for internal sharing only or to allow external sharing with other organizations.

All files stored on Zocalo are encrypted during transmission and at rest. The Zocalo Management Console also allows admins to track user activity. Enterprises can incorporate Zocalo with Active Directory to allow access using existing AD credentials. However, this requires an existing virtual private network hardware connection.

Cost and storage tiers

Prices start at $5 per month per user; each user gets 200 GB of storage. Additional storage is available starting at 3 cents per gigabyte per month per user. Cost per gigabyte decreases slightly along storage tiers, the lowest hitting $0.0275 per gigabyte per month for 5000 terabytes or more.

Amazon WorkSpaces customers have access to 50 GB of free storage space with Zocalo. WorkSpaces users may also upgrade to 200 GB of storage for $2 per month. To protect against stepping into a higher storage tier, users can set storage caps on accounts.

About the author:
Dan Sullivan holds a master of science degree and is an author, systems architect and consultant with more than 20 years of IT experience. He has had engagements in advanced analytics, systems architecture, database design, enterprise security and business intelligence. He has worked in a broad range of industries, including financial services, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, software development, government, retail and education. Dan has written extensively about topics that range from data warehousing, cloud computing and advanced analytics to security management, collaboration and text mining.

This was last published in December 2014

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