Colligo NewsBox.net versus SharePoint 2010 – The Bell for Round One

While attending the AIIM/Info360 conference a couple weeks ago, it was obvious that Box.net had decided to use the event as their “coming out” party.  Box.net is a cloud content management company that is positioning itself directly against SharePoint 2010. In fact, they are claiming that 73% of Fortune 500 companies are already using their service.

On their website, Box.net invites people to compare the cost of SharePoint to Box.net through the use of a simple calculator. So being the inquisitive type, I decided to give it a try!

After inputting several sample company sizes, it was easy to see that Box.net is focusing their “advantage” on the upfront hardware/SharePoint server costs and what they call “deployment/customization/migration/training” costs and NOT on ongoing costs. I also found the model definitely skewed towards smaller sized companies. In fact, when you input a company size of 10,000, even using their model, there is a clear advantage to using on-premise SharePoint with a payback period of a around 2 years or so.

A couple of other interesting observations, the Box.net model uses a SharePoint client access license (CAL) cost of $178 per user, which is fine. But this assumes that an organization does not already have SharePoint CALs in place for their users, which depending on their Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft, they may already have SharePoint CALs as part of their agreement.

Also, much of the upfront costs in their model seem to be focused on end-user training for SharePoint, while Box.net positions their product as requiring zero training. From watching some of their videos and actually trialing their product, zero training is certainly not the case.

From their model, they assume an upfront deployment/customization/migration/training cost of approximately $1,424 per user. It is not specified how much of that figure is allocated for training, but I would assume a fairly significant amount. From a Colligo perspective, since Colligo Contributor makes SharePoint so easy to use, the addition of Contributor to any SharePoint deployment will provide for an excellent offset to any upfront training costs.

Since much of the Box.net cost savings focus on upfront setup, hardware, maintenance and CALs required for on-premise SharePoint, these perceived advantages disappear when compared to Microsoft’s upcoming Office365 and SharePoint Online offering.  Also, the per month per user subscription fee for Box.net of $15 for the business edition and $30 for the enterprise edition, doesn’t compare very well to the SMB version of Office365 for $6, the higher-end enterprise version for $10 and the big kahuna version for $24 that includes the full functionality of Exchange, SharePoint and Lync Online, plus the desktop version of Office Professional Plus.

With SharePoint dominating the on-premise enterprise content management market and soon, the cloud market, it’s not surprising that competitors like Box.net are springing up to try to carve out a piece of the pie. However it takes a lot more than a big splash at a tradeshow and a comparison calculator to become a player in the ECM and records management market.

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