Unis trial Box cloud computing with AARNet



news Education sector telco AARNet today announced that it would provide Box’s cloud content and collaboration management platform to Australian universities and other AARNet customers, in a move which has already spurred trials at half a dozen educational institutions located around Australia.

“Our customers have been asking for a secure, scalable and affordable service packed with features that helps students, faculty and staff share and manage content from anywhere, anytime, on any device and we’re pleased to now offer them Box as a solution,” said AARNet’s chief executive Chris Hancock in a statement.

Box, which provides corporate cloud computing storage functionality, has been deployed widely across the higher education sector internationally and counts among its customers prestigious universities in the USA, including Stanford University, University of California – Berkley, Cornell University and Carnegie Mellon University.

Trials of the Box for AARNet cloud service are now underway with Edith Cowan University, Charles Sturt University, Southern Cross University, University of South Australia, University of Adelaide, Queensland University of Technology, Holmesglen TAFE and Newington College, according to AARNet.

“We’re interested in implementing AARNet’s Box offering because it’s an exciting opportunity to efficiently deliver a cloud-based collaborative data storage service to our staff and students that’s flexible enough to meet their wide-ranging needs,” said Paul Sherlock, CIO of the University of South Australia.

Box for AARNet features will be customised for Australia’s Research and Education sector and the trials are an important part of the fine-tuning process, the telco said.

AARNet’s Director Product Solutions, Jamie Sunderland says the AARNet-Box agreement means that AARNet customers will be able to rapidly deploy Box services to their entire organisation and manage how content is distributed across multiple devices and shared between internal users and external collaborators.

Box for AARNet customised features include: Access using federated single sign-on,
integration with university provisioning and security requirements, an enterprise customer agreement customised for the Australian Research and Education sector and “competitive” pricing.

Box for AARNet is being offered as part of the AARNet NET+ program to provide a choice of ‘above the network’ services customised to meet the needs of the AARNet community. AARNet Net+ program services leverage the high capacity, high preforming AARNet4 network, are competitively priced and easy for IT departments to manage.

Very interesting. In general I am a big fan of these sorts of trials; Box is a highly recommended and very functional cloud computing platform along the lines of Dropbox, but more tailored towards corporate clients. It’s spreading like wildfire amongst major Australian organisations, and you can see why. No more nasty shared network drives for sharing files between colleagues. Everyone wins from this deal — Box, the customers and even AARNet.

I will note, however, that the most desirable attribute of a customised Box agreement in Australia for the education sector — onshore storage linked to an AARNet storage facility — does not appear to be part of this arrangement. It appears as if the cloud computing aspect to this data storage will still take place offshore, which is obviously not ideal. However, data sovereignty isn’t as critical an issue in the education sector as it is in more sensitive sectors such as government, so I don’t see it as a huge roadblock at this point.

Image credit: Box