A new cloud of information rolls onto campus

Penn+Box

A cloud has parked itself over Penn, and it’s a good thing.

As of now, every member of the University community has access to Penn+Box, a cloud-based file sharing and storage service provided by the Office of Information Systems and Computing (ISC).

Think of it as a giant invisible file cabinet.

Penn+Box is a document repository that can be used in place of, or in addition to, a local fileserver. It enables data to be saved from a local computer onto the cloud automatically. Users can then access those files on other computers or mobile devices.

In addition, Penn+Box allows users to share data sets, PowerPoint slides, videos, or photo packages with colleagues within or outside the University.

“Box is a flexible tool the campus community can use to share files in a secure way with others here at Penn or with collaborators around the world,” says Adam Preset, IT technical director of network operations in ISC.

The service provides each current student, faculty, and staff member with 20 gigabytes of storage.

“Storage at 20 gig is pretty good,” Preset says. “That’s enough for more than 10,000 pictures or 100,000 10-page office documents.”

He says researchers often keep fairly large data sets, and now they can easily share their work with colleagues at other universities. He adds that some schools are using Penn+Box to provide curriculum information such as syllabi and assigned readings to students.

“With Penn+Box, students can decide how to view the information since it’s available through all mechanisms,” Preset says. “Users have control over how to view, and with whom they share, information.”

About 3,000 members of the Penn community are currently using Penn+Box, but ISC is licensed to provide the service for up to 50,000 users, enough for the entire active Penn community plus outside collaborators.

If a student, staff, or faculty member is considering using Penn+Box but is concerned about security, Preset notes that the service was examined by ISC’s information security team and the Office of General Counsel. He cautions that the repository is appropriate for most University usages, but not all, such as the storage of documents that contain Social Security numbers, or HIPPA and other types of confidential data.

To sign up for Penn+Box, go to upenn.box.com and log in using your PennKey and password (click the button that says “Continue”). For assistance, check with your office’s respective help desk.

Originally published on January 10, 2013