University of Wisconsin–Madison
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New storage quotas for Box after unexpected contract changes

In late 2019, Box announced changes to their pricing model for all educational institutions that eliminates our unlimited file storage agreement with Box at the current annual spend. In response to this announcement, Chief Information Officer and Vice Provost for Information Technology Lois Brooks assembled a task force charged with developing short- and long-term strategies to reduce the campus storage footprint in Box, and to contain costs while addressing the contract changes that Box presented to the university. 

What is changing now?

Beginning June 15, 2020, UW–Madison Box accounts will no longer have unlimited storage. All accounts will be subject to a storage quota. 

  • New Box accounts will be provisioned with a 50GB quota.
  • Existing Box accounts currently using less than 40GB of storage will be capped at 50GB.
  • Box accounts with more than 40GB of storage will have a storage cap set based on their June 15, 2020 storage occupancy plus a limited buffer for storage growth.

Most individuals will not see a difference in their experience at this time. Storage quotas will be set automatically and can be viewed via Account Settings in Box. Account holders who are reaching or exceeding the new data limits will be notified by email.

“Analysis showed that a 50GB storage limit would only affect 3.5 percent of accounts, and bring us closer to compliance with the new contract limits,” said Service Team Lead Jeannine Bos, DoIT’s service owner for Box. “We are aware of the challenges this would mean for some groups, such as research groups with large data sets and departments that use Box as part of their daily workflows, so we will continue to work with them for tailored solutions.”

Task force recommendations

Through February and March, the Box Evaluation task force engaged stakeholders through a variety of outreach activities including surveys (yielding over 2,900 responses) and multiple in-person listening sessions, to develop a better understanding of the unique ways the Box service is leveraged by campus.  

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. As they gathered use cases from across campus, they found that many departments needed guidance to move to new services and that one size would not fit all. 

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. 

Future considerations

The service team will continue to engage with teams and individuals most impacted by the Box licensing change as they move storage and workflows away from Box. Additionally, they will monitor and evaluate the storage and collaboration services landscape throughout the remainder of the new Box contract to assess other opportunities as they arise since technology and campus needs are constantly changing.

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.  DoIT advises staff and faculty to be aware of data retention responsibilities in your department, and to confer with their local IT units and the University Records Officer in preparation for more service changes. 

For questions or concerns about the new Box quotas, please reach out to the Box Service team via the Help Desk. For a full summary report of the Box Evaluation Task Force findings and recommended mitigation strategies, please visit the Box Evaluation Project page.