UK publishing firm Faber & Faber has overhauled its on-premise file storage and management infrastructure with Box's cloud storage and collaboration platform.
Faber is one of the largest independent publishing houses in the UK, and is now using Box to manage incoming manuscripts from draft to final approval, track comments on edits by approved contributors in and beyond the company, and allow remote and mobile working and file access.
Jim Lindsay, a freelance integration specialist for Faber, and the person responsible for setting up the company with Box, told V3 that the switch was prompted by the need to move away from an old storage area network (SAN) deployment.
"We started from a point of view that, post the financial crisis of 2008, Faber, like many other publishers, had decided not to spend what available money they had on infrastructure because they just couldn't afford it on dwindling revenues," he said.
Leaving legacy behind
As such, the company needed an alternative to its storage arrays and servers working across the company's London and Essex sites, which had not been upgraded for some time and were no longer supported with updates, meaning they had effectively reached the end of operational life.
Lindsay explained that modernising the setup would have been very expensive and instead suggested that a cloud-based alternative would be a better option.
"The replacement for that lot was going to cost well into six figures. When I started looking at it I offered the opinion to Faber that what it had, for a medium sized company of about 140 people, was a system more suited to a large enterprise and it was not worth replicating. And in any case it was time they were based in the cloud," he said.
Lindsay explained that many of Faber's staff were frustrated with the lack of functionality and flexibility that the old system provided and opted to use the consumer version of Dropbox to share files internally and externally.
However, this posed a security risk, and so Lindsay approached Dropbox for Business to shift the company onto a more secure version of Dropbox. However, that was not to be.
"We thought well OK let's go and speak to Dropbox for Business, which had just started up. To be honest they weren't interested enough for me to really recommend going with them," he said.
"Whatever the size of the company, you really want to have a partner who you feel has your interests at heart. They were quite pushy in terms of getting us to sign up before we tried the product. And when I did try the product I thought this was a bit like when Microsoft tried to make Entourage on the Mac an Exchange client: it's a consumer product trying to be an enterprise product."
Lindsay said he also approached a company called Storage Made Easy but eventually settled on Box.
"Box actually wanted to win Faber's business. They were really interested, they put a lot of effort into it, they were very generous in allotting us quite a lengthy trial period, and they were very keen to help us work through things," he said.
Box also offered a platform that was created for enterprise use, which Lindsay said gave it the edge over Dropbox which was a consumer product before it moved into the business world.
"All in all it balanced very well for us I think. That's why we made the decision. We are also aware that Box [has an] emphasis on platform development, so we are already looking at Box Capture and there are going to be other elements it will bring to the platform," Lindsay said.
"So we see it as a continually expanding facility. As they bring more features in we will trial them and adopt the ones that suit us, so that's a big thing for us. Also, it's very easy to use from the user's point of view and from the administrator's point of view there is no big overhead attached to using it."
The result of this was that Box was rolled out across all of Faber in September 2014, and has been up and running with no downtime or data loss for well over a year.
But winning Faber as a customer demonstrated the need for cloud service companies to have a solid platform and savvy customer-focused approaches if they are going to win new contracts in an ever-more competitive market.
Fabes has held senior IT positions for over 30 years
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