Box.net Shared Storage Meets Managed Services
Question: How can small and midsize businesses — such as accounting firms, legal firms and architectural companies — easily but securely share files with selected clientele? One potential answer is Box.net, a simple content management and storage service. Eager adopters include Network Depot, a managed service provider in Reston, Va. Here are some details.
I first stumbled onto Box.net when Nine Lives Media Inc. (MSPmentor’s parent) was evaluating widgets and plug-ins for our Web sites. We tested Box.net as a way to securely share PDFs and it seemed to work well. By pure coincidence, Network Depot President Rich Forsen emailed me last week about his company’s use of Box.net — so I wanted to hear more.
Forsen noted that Network Depot — an MSPmentor 100 company for 2007-2008 — serves accountants, lawyers and architects. He added:
“All have a need to share large files with their own clients, and like most companies, they’ve tried to use e-mail with limited success due to size and attachment limits, or they’ve had to manually set up FTP and modify that setup each time they had a client or project. Box.net provided several compelling aspects as a solution to this problem.”
The Big Box.net Benefits
Among Box.net’s three benefits, according to Forsen:
- Network Depot’s clients can manage Box.net’s folder and permission structure on their own.
- End users can create “Guest” collaborators that allow collaborators to directly link to files.
- Each of Network Depot’s clients can have their own Box.net-oriented URL branded with their their own logo. Plus, those clients can tie in with services like EchoSign and eFax directly within the app.
All of those capabilities came at a low enough recurring monthly price point that it was affordable to our clients and eliminated the costs of exploding e-mail servers and repeated service tickets to modify or augment FTP servers, added Forsen.
As you may recall, Network Depot has launched a sister company called Virtual Administrator, which operates as a Master managed service provider. Virtual Administrator hosts Kaseya‘s software for aspiring MSPs and VARs (here’s a podcast describing the company more fully). Box.net could find a home within Virtual Administrator, notes Forsen, so that Virtual Administrator’s partners can leverage the Master MSP’s economies of scale.
I realize MSPs have dozens of cloud-based storage and content management systems from which to choose. Plus, compliance regulations vary from vertical to vertical (HIPAA, Sarbanes- Oxley, etc.), which could impact your customers’ online storage options.
Box.net is merely one example of a solution that works for Network Depot. I wonder: Are other MSPs giving Box.net a try — or are you opting for alternative file sharing services?