When Henry Ford first built the Model T Ford the apocryphal story contends that you could have any colour you wanted so long as it was black. Perhaps that was itself marketing hype à la 1920’s. Anyway, we are more sophisticated now; we can choose our cars in any colour we want. Not to mention a myriad of choices for what we want to put on the inside. Leather seats, (and I can hear the cash registers) Kerching! Leather door panels. Kerching! Matching leather backing for that part of the rear view mirror that faces outwards towards the windshield. (Yes honestly) Kerching! Kerching! No wonder the on the road price and the invoice price have such a disparity.

But what of the software world? What’s the ‘on the road price’ for Office365? Here in the UK, a few pounds £3.10 per user / month. That’s less than a Grande Latte with whipped……….oh, an overdone metaphor. You get the picture. £3.10 is not much these days.

But did you want the full Office Suite installed on up to 5 PCs or Macs? That’s £8.00 per month. Still pretty good. How many users in your small business? Say 20 users? All of a sudden that’s £1,920 annually. Say $3,200 bucks as near as makes no difference. Well I expect you were thinking I was building you up for a surprise large amount. Actually, I think that’s pretty reasonable considering you get, inter alia, the full collaborative team site file sharing, a complete suite of Office on every computer in your arsenal and, wait for it, one TB, yes, 1 terabyte of storage space per user. That’s over 714 million 3.5” floppy disks per user. Surely nobody is going to store that much. Well it’s a little like the inverse of hotel rooms and airline seats. They overbook because they know not everyone shows up and they want to fill up the assets. Only Microsoft are probably a tad light on disk assets right this minute hoping not everyone wants 1TB, but they’ll watch the trend carefully and can always run down to the store before it closes and buy some more disk drives, can’t they.

So where am I going with this?

About 10 years ago here at Digilink, with Microsoft’s sincere encouragement (“Just build it guys and they’ll be sucking it off the shelves”) we launched our first version of Revelation for offline synchronization of SharePoint files. We tested it on perhaps a couple of hundred files to give it a bit of a workout. Given the fact that we hadn’t got Fibre in the office yet, the download was pretty good and we figured we had it taped. Even our large Government contract spoke in terms of maybe 50 to 100MB offline storage, max. A few months later a company came it, they had Fibre, and guess what. They had several thousand files online.

We tinkered and tinkered. We weren’t happy so we threw it all away and re-wrote it and tested our new code on approx 60,000 files. About 75GB in fact. We figured that was a pretty healthy download for a user to take travelling on their laptop.

But wait a minute. Sit back and think about the market drivers that give an individual storage of 1 TB to play with. Now think about a company’s files. Do you still think 60,000 files and 75GB will cut it? – No way!

So here we are. It’s 2014 and we are just rolling out new versions into final beta. Multi threaded upload and download. It’ll keep the Ethernet cable on a Gigabit Ethernet network really warm. But that’s the thing. Office365 with few exceptions is in the Cloud. We can now move data as fast as the network, for the most part, can take it. Not to mention the Cloud based SharePoint servers at Microsoft.

So have we really future-proofed ourselves? Probably not if we look forward another ten years. After all, I never guessed 1TB for just £3.10 a month.

But it’s the right tool for the right time. We will not be found wanting. Well before I make more Churchillian speeches, what are the odds that we get a knock on the door from a company who wants to synchronize a Petabyte of storage. Any takers for that bet?

Ivor Share