Australian universities weigh up the benefits of Box

Australian universities have been trialling Box as part of a local deal struck with Australia’s Academic and Research Network.
Written by Leon Spencer, Contributor

Australian universities are weighing up whether they should take to the cloud using Box's cloud content and collaboration management platform, which is currently being offered as a trial by Australia's Academic and Research Network (AARNet).

Trials of AARNet's Box cloud offering have been undertaken by several of Australia's universities, including Edith Cowan University, Charles Sturt University and the University of South Australia.

According to AARNet's director of product solutions, Jamie Sunderland, the deal struck with Box allows the not-for-profit organisation to offer its members the California-based company's cloud and collaboration services at a much lower rate than if they were to sign up directly to Box.

"It's a highly advantageous deal that offers significant discounts for our customers and they can sign up individually as they choose," said Sunderland. "It means that for a large organisation they can get their cost of the Box service down to about AU$2.00 to $7.00 per user per year. If they were to buy Box commercially, it would be $32.50 a month per user, so it’s hugely different."

This incentive seems to already be paying off, with Open Universities, the online and correspondence education organisation jointly owned by eight of the country's largest universities, becoming the first local education institution to officially sign up for the AARNet Box service.

Sunderland said as the trial process comes to a close within the next few weeks, other organisations are falling in line to sign up to the platform.

"The trial process is nearly at an end, in fact, Open Universities has already signed up to a contract and a couple of others are asking for contracts now," he said. "It won't be long until some of the trial participants become early adopters. It's only a matter of weeks until we put it into general availability."

Box, which filed its long-awaited public offering in the US last month, has been taken on by a number of high profile education organisations in the US, including Stanford University, University of California and Cornell University — a factor, according to Sunderland, that initially attracted AARNet to the platform.

"Box had already been through a review process by a number of large US universities," he said. "They made sure it met a number of important privacy principles and Box has gone further with that, ensuring ISO 27001 and the international Safe Harbor privacy principles. For information that's being stored overseas, that it's encrypted is essential."

AARNet provides high capacity internet and communications services for the country’s research and education community, and claims 38 Australian universities and the CSIRO as members.

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