Today the data sharing company Box is rolling out a new system called Box Accelerator, which will considerably increase upload speeds for users. The new system will particularly benefit Box users outside the U.S., who account for more than 50% of the data transfers Box sees worldwide. The speed at which an application responds to a user is fundamental to how appealing it is to use, and piping in resources to fix this fundamental detail is in keeping with founder Aaron Levie's belief that a successful product is often the simplest to use.
Box is setting up its speedy transfer in two ways. First, it is increasing the number of local points of upload and has added six new locations in Asia, Australia, and Europe. (The company recently opened an office in London.) Second, Box engineers have installed new software (which Box is attempting to patent) that analyzes and chooses the fastest path for data to travel.
"One of the real challenges is that the Internet is very dynamic and it's very noise and messy, especially globally," Sam Schillace, new VP of engineering at Box says. When it gets an upload request, Box Accelerator makes a real-time assessment of the various factors that can slow down or speed up upload times, picking the best route according to where you're from, and what browser you use. Speeding up uploads is a first step, and downloads is going to be next on the list.
Box Accelerator enabled Box uploads that were 10 times faster in Tokyo and four times faster in D.C., observed independent speed tracker Neustar, which Box commissioned to watch their progress. Tracking upload times over three days this September, Neustar reported that Box was faster than its three biggest competitors—Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft's SkyDrive—with an average upload time of 15.7 seconds for 25 MB of data. (Though, speeds of the various services varied depending on the location. In Hong Kong, for example, Google Drive at 25 seconds beat out Box's timing of 42.3 seconds for the same amount of data. But in Tokyo, Box was a clear winner with the lowest upload time of 5.7 compared to SkyDrive, which came next, at 48 seconds.)
Schillace, who founded Writerly, which Google bought and turned into Google Docs, joined Box in August. By then, engineers had already dreamed up and built Box Accelerator. Shillace was impressed.
"It's very reminiscent of something that Google would do."