Box.net Shared Storage Meets Managed Services

Box.net Shared Storage Meets Managed Services

Box.net shared storage meets managed services providersQuestion: 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:
  1. Network Depot's clients can manage Box.net's folder and permission structure on their own.
  2. End users can create “Guest” collaborators that allow collaborators to directly link to files.
  3. 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.

Next Moves

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.

Other Options

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?

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