As you may recall, in early October, Bill Allison announced UC Berkeley's participation in an Internet2 program that will extend Box.net file sharing and collaboration services to the campus (see http://inews.berkeley.edu/articles/Oct-Nov2011/Boxnet).
Since that announcement, we have been working with Internet2, the Box.net team, and other early adopter campuses to explore a number deployment issues specific to the higher education market, which is new for Box.net. This has been a fascinating process, and we have already been able to identify common challenges and leverage common approaches.
Software-as-a-service offerings are becoming more and more common, and stepping into this arena requires a new framework of assessment in order to effectively and securely integrate this delivery model into our environment. To that end, we have assembled a team to evaluate issues such as single-sign-on authentication, security, use-cases, related data policy issues, usability, accessibility and varied support models. I would like to thank those from Berkeley who are helping us with the project and in shaping this partnership, particularly Yau-Man Chan from the technical team, Rich Meyer and Norm Cheng from the project management team.
A pilot program has been established to test features and get direct feedback from a range of selected users and the local IT staff who support them. We will use the pilot to shape the functions we release, the use-cases we support, and fine-tune local support resources available to the community. The pilot will continue at least until the first release of the Box service to active staff, faculty, and students in the first quarter of 2012.
Our approach to releasing functionality will be to start simple and increase in complexity. For example, we will first aim to support file collaboration services broadly between individuals, then with those outside UC Berkeley. More complex use-cases including access to the Box App ecosystem, managing restricted/sensitive data, and group/department file stores are also being evaluated. Provisions for these are currently being discussed on campus and with Internet2/Box. We will publish a best-efforts roadmap for these features as quickly as possible, and in consultation with the various teams we are working with across the campus.
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