M+Box, the newest addition to U-M’s collaboration and storage solutions, recently surpassed 17,000 users. The university is Box’s biggest educational client and second largest account nationwide.
M+Box launched in early April following a test period with small pilot groups. Use grew steadily during the summer but has surged in the past several months with the return of students and faculty to campus for the fall term.
“Similar to our arrangement with Google, M+Box is a partnership between U-M and Box that offers an easy and secure way to store and share files, and collaborate with others,” says MaryBeth Stuenkel, the M+Box service owner for Information and Technology Services.
All current U-M students, faculty and staff can sign up for a free 50GB account.
M+Box users can:
• Share documents with anyone, even those without M+Box service.
• Access and sync files from multiple devices and browsers.
• Control levels of access and set expiration dates on sharing.
• Assign tasks and track who accesses files.
• Edit, comment on, lock and restore documents.
Departments and units are finding that M+Box provides a flexible and convenient workspace for sharing files and collaborating on projects.
For example, the Department of Classical Studies had relied heavily on shared Outlook calendars to organize its many events. Anna Moyer, executive secretary to the chair, says U-M’s move to Google Apps and the loss of Outlook concerned her group quite a bit. Then one of her colleagues learned about M+Box during a Google training session.
“She came back and said, ‘I think Box might work for what we need,’” Moyer says. “And it really did. It’s been a godsend.”
With a little help from LSA Information Technology, the group was able to transition its event planning process and content from Outlook to a shared M+Box folder.
The department uses M+Box to share, edit and store everything from schedules and agendas to budgets and marketing materials. The group also set up the desktop sync tool so staff can work offline and be sure their changes are uploaded and shared.
“We are using M+Box every day,” Moyer says. “There was some initial learning, but it solved our issue about transitioning from Outlook. And it’s very easy to put big files in there, like posters, so we don’t take up email space or have to search our inbox for an attachment.”
Classical Studies has partnered with LSA Development, which assists the department with large events, to use M+Box on their joint projects.
“You can work so much better when everyone has easy access to all the info,” Moyer says. “I encourage anyone who’s looking for a way to collaborate to take a look at M+Box.”
U-M’s agreement with Box also provides security and compliance provisions that are not a part of personally-maintained commercial cloud storage solutions, such as DropBox, SkyDrive, iCloud, SugarSync, etc. This means that M+Box can be used to store or share almost all types of university-related information.
U-M was the first university to introduce the service, which is a result of an agreement between Box, a commercial data-storage provider, and Internet2, a consortium of leading U.S. research and educational organizations.
M+Box is part of the NextGen Michigan program, a strategy for changing the university’s IT service approach and investing in the “next generation” of computing technologies.
Other universities participating in the Box/Internet2 partnership include Cornell University, Indiana University, the University of Notre Dame and the University of California, Berkeley.
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