A US $10,000 partial refund has been offered to a Box customer after the company failed to set up its file sharing system due to the customer's own firewall incompatibility. 

The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority has instead opted to implement the popular Dropbox system over the more enterprise geared Box because of the snafu, a Wall Street Journal report found.

Several Months Spent on Workaround

Although Box has not actually paid out the refund yet, the promise to do so came out in November after the failed install that started over the summer, the Authority's CIO, Steven Snyder said. The company tried to install Box to simplify sharing of convention planning documents between employees and clients. 

After spending nearly US $35,000 on Box, the Authority halted the implementation in September, and it would have cost much more if the project had continued, Snyder said.

Box couldn't sync documents on worker desktops with its storage system because of the Authority's firewall, and despite months of attempting a workaround, the combined Box and authority's IT teams couldn't fix it.

Near the end of the year, the Authority installed Dropbox for 100 workers, and it only took a couple weeks to set up. There were no problems with the company firewall this time.


Turn any folder into an online workspace with the Web based Box file sharing system.

Consumer Tools to the Rescue

That an entity like a state run convention center authority is running a system like Dropbox should not really be a surprise at all. The people working there are likely no more technically inclined than any established workforce, so it makes sense they might feel comfortable using the more consumer focused Dropbox system. 

That's not to say the Box platform is complicated to use, just that it's harder to set up. At least in this case. Dropbox may not have administrative and compliance capabilities, but clearly the Authority didn't need those features anyway.

If a larger workforce had been involved or if security and compliance layers were needed, the Box installation would likely have continued. Either that, or the Authority would have had to work with another enterprise grade system like Microsoft's SharePoint. However the Authority points out that this kind of system requires lots of employee training and the extra features were not really needed.

The fact Dropbox could be set up so quickly is an added bonus many companies will no doubt continue to look to in 2013. The ability so set up and if necessary scale the system quickly is another reason companies will continue to look to consumer grade options in these kinds of cases. 

Does This Hurt Box?

There was a time when Box might have been lumped in with solutions like Dropbox. But it has found its own way into the enterprise and has become a well known and popular alternative to many enterprise content management platforms.

It is strange then, that the platform couldn't work around a firewall. One assumes firewalls are in every enterprise, so why did Box have particular issues with this one? Does this mean that Box is having challenges with other organizations and we aren't hearing about it, or is this a one off? These are the questions I would be asking if I was looking to implement Box in my enterprise.