I Want More

By Daniel Antion posted 07-05-2011 18:28


So what’s a SharePoint guy like me doing signing up for a Box.net account?  Simply put, I am experimenting. You see, I am desktop bound M-F, and I enjoy access to full blown powerful desktop applications, reliable on-premise storage and a SharePoint server that is set up just the way we like it. Microsoft products are all covered by Software Assurance, so upgrades are available on the same day that they are released, unless that day happens to be within 90 days of year-end a.k.a. the “No New Excel Zone”. On the other hand, there is life after the day-shift – I should say, there is work after the day-shift.

Off-premise access to the stuff I am working on has always been a huge deal for me. Having such access has allowed me to live a relatively normal life. I can go home on time, but I can still finish the work that has to be done before tomorrow. I have enjoyed this type of freedom since the days of Carbon Copy and a Hayes 2400 baud modem. Given that Microsoft builds has these features built into their servers, why am I checking out the competition? I mean, all I have to do is fire up my laptop, connect over VPN and voila, I am logged into MySite. The problem? I want more. I want simple, secure, fast, reliable access to the files I need tonight without all the hassle of my domain laptop and VPN. I should be thrilled with the capabilities I have, but I’m not, and if I’m not, I’m guessing some of my users aren’t either.

I really liked the way, back in the days of SharePoint 2007, that the Exchange OWA client could peak behind the firewall and give you access to a SharePoint library. Unfortunately, that feature appears to have gone missing in the 2010 combination. That was a nice solution, but it only offered one-way access; I could download and edit a document, but I had to put it back in SharePoint using VPN. Oh, I could force an indirect update via an email-enabled library, but that was a three-cushion bank shot. I also have a SkyDrive, but it’s tangled up with Live.com. Now, Live.com is a very cool solution, and I truly appreciate the 30 GB SkyDrive, but Live.com wants to be so much more than cloud-based storage. It wants to be my social and sharing platform of choice and I don’t want that. Flickr will always be a better place to share photos, Twitter will always be a better place to share random thoughts and Facebook…ok, you got me there, Facebook isn’t a better place for anything.

I opened a free account at Box.net, and my first impressions are mixed. The free account gives me 5 GB of storage and a 25MB file size limit. I should be able to manage with that, but it certainly seems paltry compared to the 30GB SkyDrive. Box, has an app for my iThings (hopefully Apple hasn’t trademarked iThings) but I can’t edit direct a document directly from my iPad app; I still need to make that three-cushion bank. The features for sharing seem better on my SkyDrive too, but honestly, I use this for sharing between work-me and home-me, so I’m good. As I said at the start, I am experimenting. So far, I have an account, the Box App for my iPad, a couple of Office look-a-like wannabe apps for the iPad and a 12-pack of Sam Adams Boston Lager. I’m on vacation this week and I’ll report back next Tuesday.

#box #sharepoint #SkyDrive #SharePoint #Live