New CyBox contract ends era of “unlimited” storage

A change in the contract between cloud storage service provider, Box (known to Cyclones as CyBox) means the days of unlimited digital file storage are coming to an end. Starting June 30, 2021, any additional storage over 1.2 petabytes (PB) will incur an additional cost of $130/terabyte/year. Today, Iowa State University stores approximately 1.8 PB of data on CyBox. 

To decrease the financial impact of this change on the university, Information Technology Services (ITS), in partnership with the Technology Enterprise Advisory Committee (TEAC) and other IT advisory groups, has developed a plan encouraging customers to perform a digital file clean-up or voluntarily migrate files to other available cloud storage tools. By performing frequent file review, users can avoid the accumulation of outdated, duplicate and obsolete files. 

In addition to file review and cleanup promoting a more limited use of CyBox, quotas will be instituted on individual and college/unit data starting spring 2021. 

"In the past, unlimited storage was something offered by most cloud storage vendors, but those days appear to be coming to an end,” says Jason Shuck, ITS systems operations manager and member of the Storage@ISU project team. “The good news is that storage limits are often very generous and meet the needs of most individuals.”  

ITS has identified two cloud storage options for migrating individual data from CyBox if necessary. Individual data at Iowa State University is defined as files created or regularly accessed for work or learning purposes, but not shared with more than a few individuals on a regular basis. These storage options include OneDrive, a Microsoft Office application, and Google Drive. Both alternatives are available at no additional cost to all university students, faculty and staff. 

College/unit data quotas, set for colleges/units according to FTE count, will be communicated to college and unit leadership by their local IT professional. Colleges/units have the option to migrate files to OneDrive, but the Storage@ISU project team strongly recommends this option only if all files within a college/unit will migrate to the new tool. This recommendation will help avoid fragmentation of services within colleges/units and greatly reduce confusion among associated users. 

To decrease the likelihood that university colleges and units are required to pay additional fees to maintain their current level of usage, ITS stresses the value of all university users performing a digital file clean-up. 

“Box’s contract adjustment to remove unlimited storage has forced a huge change for campus,” stated ITS change manager, Scott Butterfield. “Luckily, we have adaptable students, faculty, and staff who can work together to keep the cost reasonable by reducing storage or moving storage to a new platform. Everyone can help even if they’re not over quota by being conscious of their usage and removing unneeded and obsolete files.” 

For now, the course of action remains focused on data reduction in CyBox and does not require campus-wide migration to a new tool. 

“All around, change is difficult,” said ITS Director Mike Lohrbach, “especially when it occurs among other high-impact changes, like adapting to remote work and learning. After much discussion with IT advisory groups like the Technology Enterprise Advisory Committee (TEAC), the choice was made to hold off on a campus-wide cloud storage service migration for the immediate future and reassess the situation as required over the next three years.” 

The current Box contract will remain the same until June 30, 2023 but negotiating the new contract will begin long before that time. ITS and campus leadership will continue to review digital file storage statistics throughout the life of the current contract in order to make the best long-term decisions for sustainable cloud storage solutions at Iowa State University.  

To learn more about the cloud file storage update, please visit the Storage@ISU project webpage on the ITS website. If you have questions about the project or need help, please contact the project team by emailing storage@iastate.edu.