University of Wisconsin–Madison

Box Evaluation Project Findings

Background & Strategy

In late 2019, Box announced changes to their pricing model for educational institutions that eliminates unlimited file storage with Box at our current annual spend. In response to this announcement, a task force was assembled and charged with developing short-term and long-term strategies to reduce the campus storage footprint in Box and contain costs to address the contract changes that Box presented to the university. The task force engaged stakeholders through a variety of outreach activities including a survey (yielding over 2,900 responses) and multiple in-person listening sessions. The goal of these activities was to develop a better understanding of the unique ways the Box service is leveraged by campus.

Findings on Campus Impact

  • 69,000 licenses in use
  • 965 TB of total storage
  • 10,000 – 14,000 users are active on a weekly basis (14 – 20% of users)
  • Top 2,500 Box users account for approximately 842 TB of all accounts >50 GB
  • Top 130 Box users account for approximately 425 TB of all accounts >1 TB

Engagement efforts affirmed that many faculty, researchers and administrators rely on Box to support departmental processes and collaborative workflows that may be extremely disruptive to unwind in the short term, especially if alternative pathways are not fully available. With that in mind, along with the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, the task force focused on recommendations to provide the university with a longer period of time to reduce the storage footprint in Box without incurring additional costs under the contract.

Effective July 2020, UW-Madison plans to enter into a 3-year commitment with Box which will require us to meet annual storage quotas to keep our annual spend flat. To achieve this, executive sponsors approved the following mitigation strategies:

Short Term Strategies

The Box Evaluation Task Force recommended several actions in response to the new Box license agreement. First, there was broad support for working with Box to renegotiate the one year contract and instead commit to a three year contract that would allow more time to reduce our storage to the final 285TB cap. Assuming a 3-year commitment, the Task Force agreed to three additional short term actions.

  • Implement storage quotas on all new and existing Box accounts.
  • Contact Box users with large accounts and uncomplicated sharing relationships to understand their needs and find alternative solutions.
  • Position Research Drive as an alternative storage solution where appropriate.

Long Term Strategies

We will continue to engage 1:1 with those individuals most impacted by the Box licensing change as we move storage and workflows away from Box.

We will need to monitor and evaluate the storage and collaboration services landscape throughout the remainder of the Box contract to assess other opportunities as they arise since technology and campus needs are constantly changing.

Next Steps

There is no need to move accounts at this time. We are hard at work to identify the best options and transition strategies and will be in touch to provide practical recommendations and support options soon.

  • If you have one of the accounts reaching the new data limits, you will receive an email soon with more guidance about account clean-up.
  • All records, regardless of format, that are made or received by university employees during their work must be managed throughout its entire lifecycle according to approved records schedules.  Be aware of data retention responsibilities in your department, as we will advise account holders to confer with their local IT units and the University Records Officer in preparation for the service changes. We want to give account holders time to be thoughtful with their data as we move forward.

For questions or concerns, please reach out to us via the Help Desk. We want to work with you to ensure ease of transition through these changes.

Thank you to all of the stakeholders that shared their use cases with us as we compiled this data, and to our task force members for analyzing this data and lending your expertise to the project. We appreciate your time and efforts in support of our fact-finding mission and look forward to working together on a successful transition.

For more information about this project, please visit the Box Evaluation project page.