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Rice contracts with box.com to provide staff cloud storage

By Jennifer Shen     4/9/14 12:49pm

Rice University has teamed up with Box, a company that provides online file-sharing and storage services, for a cloud storage and sharing solution for research and collaboration among faculty and staff, according to Barry Ribbeck, director of Systems, Architecture, Infrastructure, Cloud Strategies and Initiatives.

Rice University has teamed up with Box, a company that provides online file-sharing and storage services, for a cloud storage and sharing solution for research and collaboration among faculty and staff, according to Barry Ribbeck, director of Systems, Architecture, Infrastructure, Cloud Strategies and Initiatives. Because of their frequent collaboration with faculty and staff on research and other efforts, students will also have access to the storage solution. The service will become available within the next two weeks.

Each faculty and staff member will receive 30 gigabytes of storage space, and each student will get one gigabyte, according to Ribbeck. Because the solution is extremely expensive, Information Technology wanted to start conservatively with the storage space and adjust depending on the demand.



“We are starting off small and [we’ll] see how well it takes off,” Ribbeck said. “We will be able to scale it very easily [if we need more space].”

The storage solution will be available through the website, Ribbeck said. According to Box’s website, there is also a local client for Mac and Windows for syncing files. Files can also be synced across mobile devices, including Android, iOS and Windows.

Ribbeck said the motivation behind getting Box’s service came out of a survey conducted by the IT Task Force, an effort started about two years ago by Kevin Kirby, vice president for Administration, to ensure Rice has the appropriate IT infrastructure to meet needs for research and education.

The IT Task Force found that there was a need on campus for an easy way to securely share sensitive information among faculty and staff for research, academic and administrative purposes, according to Ribbeck.

“[Sensitive information] is shipped around in emails,” Ribbeck said. “We end up having duplicate copies of documents that probably shouldn’t be scattered all over the place.”

Ribbeck said Rice chose Box’s service mainly for its ability to encrypt sensitive information such as research data and grant information. Box stores all its data inside the United States, ensuring that its access falls under U.S. jurisdictions and complies with U.S. laws such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which protects the privacy of student education records.

“We really don’t want Rice business data and research documents to be housed in those [free, insecure] services,” Ribbeck said. “If we don’t provide these services, people will go out and use something that might be insecure.”

Ribbeck said mobile support and the ability to backup deleted information for up to 90 days was also part of the reason IT chose Box’s service.



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