It started as many IT Consultancy visits do – a “quick visit” to sort out a minor problem with sending an email at a small business (9 members of staff with a PC each), and then, out of nowhere comes the question that we dread when on a tight time-scale with the next month already booked up in advance… “we need an server to share files for all of us – could you set that up for us… we need it next week, will it cost much?” In default “IT Consultant Mode” I started explaining the costs of the physical hardware, the Windows Server licence, how long it would take to order, install and configure on each PC, and then, just as I was explaining the electricity cost, I stopped.. Thinking back I wonder if my customer thought I had lost it completely, as I stopped open-mouthed and went “AAAHHH” far too loud, and then I asked a question I have never uttered before..
“There might be a better way – have you heard of DropBox?”
She replied that she hadn’t, and enquired as to what it was. It was then that it struck me, on every previous occasion, what was it that always got added on the end of the shared files question… “can I access them at home?” and I started my explanation with a question: “Would you like to be able to access and update the shared documents from home?”. To say that the customer was shocked was an understatement as she struggled to contain her enthusiasm “you mean I could actually do that???” So I proceeded to explain over the course of about 10 minutes the two possible routes – the traditional route with the server, the new router, the VPN, the approximate cost of £2400 all in, and the new route – the brand new option – Dropbox, which is free for up to 2Gb of storage. I asked what was being stored in the file store, and emphasised the importance of not storing personal information in the new dropbox folder if we were to use it, and the answer “no, its just for a few policies and procedures” meant it was a perfect fit. So, 30 minutes after arriving on-site to fix email, all staff have dropbox installed on their PC with a nice DropBox shortcut on their desktop to the folder, the owner has had the dropbox guided tour and actually understands it all (and added Dropbox on her iPhone there an then), and wow – it works (and is still working) perfectly. One very, very happy customer, with a solution that when coupled in the near future with Office 365 will result in not needing any server for the office at all. Dropbox I salute you – a wonderful new technology that can be applied to revolutionise business file sharing.