Blog

Box.net Status Update

Colleagues,

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.

For more information, please refer to the Box.net service description at http://techcommons.berkeley.edu/product/boxnet and http://www.box.com/features

… or contact the team at boxinfo@lists.berkeley.edu.

Best, 

Patrick

November 10, 2011
Bill Allison, IST--Campus Technology Services
UC Berkeley is part of a new initiative that will soon make cloud-based file storage and management available to students, faculty, and staff. The service will be provided as part of a two-year agreement between Internet2 — a consortium of leading U.S. research and educational organizations — and Box.net — a commercial online file sharing and storage service. A small group of users from multiple research campuses are currently piloting Box.net. Berkeley plans to deploy a pilot on campus during the fall semester, with the goal of providing access more broadly to campus users in spring 2012. With this agreement, Berkeley joins universities such as Cornell, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Notre Dame that are participating in similar pilots.

The initiative is part of the OE Productivity Suite effort and supports several important Productivity Suite goals.

  • It is a key component of the goal to provide universally acquired and deployed solutions to all members of the campus community.
  • It establishes a cloud-based campuswide solution that will support integration with current environments, including document storage, imaging, and collaboration applications.
  • It will provide safe, secure, and inexpensive storage that allows every member of the community to share files and collaborate on documents with anyone in the world with no additional software needed.
  • It will eventually help replace current solutions that are reaching the end of their life cycles, such as the AFS deployment.

IST--Campus Technology Services will oversee the Box.net project, with Patrick McGrath taking functional ownership and Yau-Man Chan as CTS technical lead. The larger program was announced at the Fall 2011 Internet2 Member Meeting and is part of Net+, a developing series of high-performance networking services. While Berkeley's deployment is slated for next year, a project web page with FAQs and links to other resources will be posted in the coming weeks. Further questions can be directed toboxinfo@lists.berkeley.edu.

For more information, see the details from the Internet2 meeting:

UC Berkeley is part of an exciting new initiative that will soon make cloud-based file storage and management available to students, faculty, and staff. The service will be provided as part of a two-year agreement between Internet2 – a consortium of leading U.S. research and educational organizations – and Box.net – a commercial online file sharing and storage service.  A small group of users from multiple research campuses are currently piloting Box.net.   We plan to deploy a pilot on our campus here at Berkeley later in the fall semester, with the goal of providing access more broadly to campus users later in spring of 2012. 

The effort will be undertaken as part of the OE Productivity Suite effort run out of Campus Technology Solutions (CTS) group in IST, with Patrick McGrath taking on the functional ownership of the service of the Box.net project with Yau-man Chan as the CTS technical lead.    In addition to Berkeley, other universities are also participating in similar pilots including Cornell, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Notre Dame, and others.   This project supports several important Productivity Suite goals. First, it is a key component of our goal of providing universally acquired and deployed solutions to all members of the campus community.   Second, it establishes a cloud based campus wide solution that will support integration with current environments including document storage, imaging, and collaboration applications.   Third it will provide safe, secure, and inexpensive storage that allows every member of the community to share files and collaborate on documents with anyone in the world with no additional software needed.    Finally it will eventually help replace current solutions that are reaching end of their lifecycle here, including the AFS deployment. 

The larger program was announced today at Internet2  and is part of a developing a series of high-performance networking services called Net+ . While Berkeley's deployment is slated for next year, we will post a project project web page and FAQ and links to other resources in the coming weeks.  Further questions can be directed to boxinfo@lists.berkeley.edu 

For more information, please see the details from Internet2:

http://www.internet2.edu/services/box.html

http://www.internet2.edu/news/pr/2011.10.04.net-services.html

http://www.internet2.edu/services/NET+FAQ-1011.pdf

Bill Allison

Unit needed to select online learning software that could be used with the UC-wide learning management system.

Several software programs would work, so choice was based on recommendations from other departments on campus--especially from one that previously worked with the same "instructional content" expert (non-technical) consultant whom the Unit hired for this current project.

Selected software product turned out to be very difficult to use in a large variety of ways.  Campus and UC-wide technical support for this LMS, e.g. for transferring material in, and adjusting features to work such as built-in email notifications and progress reporting, was very limited. Roll-out included several major glitches, such as unreliable indication of 100% of completion by individual users.  Only with much effort was Unit able to successfully get their locally-developed content to work adequately in the UC-environment.

On the plus side: claims that the selected software product was rated well on "accessibility" for users with disabilities turned out to be true, although one type of test format had to be discarded (column matching).  However, that format doesn't work well for accessibility in any environment.

Requirement: Administrative staff employee IT service user with limited technical skills, wishes to modify current leased campus office phone for hands-free use.

Steps: Browse campus phone service shopping cart, find only expensive wireless equipment, talk to staff in-person to confirm the selected equipment works with the user's phone set and voice connection line.

Results: Select very expensive (approx. $350 wireless) equipment, submit local online ordering form through IST staff website.  IST-Telecomm order, including change to connection service is automatically instigated in background.

Afterwards: Discovered that employee in neighboring cubicle has an unused, very inexpensive, non-bluetooth headset that will work with user's phone.  Cancelled $350 order.  Received email about background voice service activity and responded with cancellation request.