docSpace takes pressure off corporate e-mail

The docSpace Co. has set up a Web-based file sending and sharing network designed to take the burden of large file attachments off corporate e-mail.

Using 256-bit encryption without a certificate, docSpace serves as a virtual e-mail, file sharing and file storage system hosted entirely by The docSpace Co., said Sandra Wear, vice-president of marketing for docSpace in Toronto. VeriSign digital certificates featuring PKI integration are available from docSpace as well.

“A year ago, no one wanted anything hosted outside the firewall, but now it makes IT jobs a lot easier. It doesn’t bring in new apps to support,” Wear said.

The only client-side software needed is a Web browser such as Netscape or Microsoft Internet Explorer. Users log into the system over the Web to access internal docSpace applications, such as Express and Drive.

Express is docSpace’s Web courier, providing the ability to send, receive and track files in real time with delivery confirmation, Wear said.

“It looks very much like e-mail, so it’s easy for anyone to use,” she said.

Because messages are stored on the Web, the mail is accessible from any computer. Express also integrates directly with Drive, docSpace’s virtual hard drive that allows storage and organization of files. Both features allow information to be downloaded to a computer as well.

Wear said it is currently impossible for users to access each other’s drives in any kind of collaborative fashion, but said docSpace Manager, due in September, will allow collaboration with document management, version control, user privileges and file organization.

docSpace Admin is a Web-based console that allows managers to set permissions, drive sizes and other preferences.

Paul Caneiro, CTO of Ogilvy & Mather in New York City, said the advertising company’s e-mail was suffering under large file attachments.

“One of the things that kept happening is that e-mail delay times kept increasing. We knew going forward that we were going to have to find a better solution,” Caneiro said.

Ogilvy & Mather had an FTP server in place, but Caneiro said hardly anyone knew how to use it “and it didn’t really let us send and receive files to the client securely without a lot of administrative overhead.”

Additionally, usage of an international long-distance ISDN service was costing the company almost US$1 million per year on top of regular courier costs. Caneiro said the company considered building an internal application based on Oracle, and also looked at products such as docSpace.

“We felt that the docSpace product really had a future: the technology was good, it required zero administration on our part, we were able to automate everything, we were able to pre-register all of the internal users and maintain different classes of users. It also required no extra software…and it ran through firewalls, which was one of our requirements,” Caneiro said.

But when Ogilvy & Mather first looked at docSpace, the fit was not immediately perfect.

“We did have a couple of issues which we knew going in,” Caneiro said. “One of them was addressing: we had 15,000 users in our address book and the normal product allowed you to maintain those addresses locally. We didn’t want the users to be able to type in user names or maintain them locally. We wanted them to be server-based.

“So we knew it was going to be a bit cumbersome in the beginning, but we’ve since upgraded to their latest release, which is branded for Ogilvy, and that’s where we are today. It satisfies all our needs.”

Pricing for docSpace services varies with contracts, service-level agreements, and co-branding services. The basic pricing structure for Drive is: up to 49,999 users can have a free 20MB drive, US$9.99 per user/month for 50MB, and US$14.99 per user/month for 100MB. Express pricing ranges with number of users and account sizes: 5MB accounts for less than 500 users are US$19.99 per user/month or US$7.99 per user/month for 10,000 to 49,999 users. Account sizes go up to 250MB.

docSpace in Toronto is at 1-888-810-3627 or on-line at