Delve vs Box : What the heck is Delve? Don’t baby me…don’t tech me…give it to me straight! –

At @MS_Ignite I had a very fun, cool, awesome session that we affectionately called "Battle of the Office Graph".  Can you tell from the pic?

Huh, you said Delve in the blog title, why now are you saying "Office Graph"?  Well, that's what this blog post is here to enlighten you about!  So let me explain…the "Office Graph" is the basis for a series of "signals" or "events" that occur in the O365 eco-system that are fed into the SharePoint Search index.  These signals can be a myriad of different things such as "Create", "Update", "Email", blah blah (you can learn all about it here).  These events also have properties that are indexed such that you can "query" them via the SharePoint Search APIs.  So…back to the question that was asked over and over again at the Delve booth at @MS_Ignite…

What is Delve? 

This O365 page tries to tell you, but kinda fails miserably.  Delve, my friends, is simply a UI on top of the SharePoint Search index (yeah…that awesome Ceres code built by the amazingly cool and crazy smart Norwegians that I love to hang out with!) that shows you these various events that you or other people have generated in a "meaningful" way.  At least…that's how it started out anyway.  as some other people have started to notice, the page is taking on the new persona of the "My Profile" page, only rebranded as "Delve". The "meaningful" way is simply a basic set of queries that the Search team put together that they think makes the most sense for a majority of people and organizations on the planet.  Will it work for you?…probably…is it optimal for you?  Maybe not. If you check out Wikipedia…it has a horrible definition that is not even close!  Does it use machine learning and artificial intelligence…ummm no.  As a computer scientist, I can safely say that simple algorithms and data queries don't qualify for machine learning or even come close to AI.  The marketing guys did a really good job and they let the media spin this out of control! It also does not let you manage your emails or pretty much anything else that the page says (as of 5/20/2015)!

Since it is just a simple one page app that makes Ajax calls to the Search API…this is where the ability to make your own "Delve" page (or App) comes into play.  You can create your own pages in O365 that makes calls to the Search API and build your own Delve interface(s).  Currently the default Delve UI page is not extensible unless you highjack the CDN, which you can do inside your network, but not outside it (which of course would make for a terrible user experience). Wait a few more months and you should get the ability to do some customization (although we are not sure exactly what they will entail just yet)!

In addition, the widely awaited and
anticipated "Push API" is coming very soon (likely end of 2015).  This
will allow you to pump your own "signals" into the SharePoint Search
index aka Office Graph aka Delve.  This will kick the crap out of Box
and all the other online storage companies and anyone else that is even
thinking about entering the online storage market!

So….it's this future ability to create your own UI based off the internal and external indexed signals that makes the future of the O365 platform so exciting!  Which brings me to the second part of this blog post…comparing Delve and O365 (OneDrive) to something like Box.  Ok so yeah, they had an IPO recently.  The stock has tanked horribly…why?  Cuz Microsoft is about to destroy them.  If you are stockholder…well…I'm sorry for you.  Get out now!  I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and say its possible that they may use some of that cash to catchup, however, if they simply use it to do Merger and Acquisitions of simple disk drives…well…your screwed.

Real life example: 

eBay has a fairly huge presence on Box but does not use their internal OneDrive (My Site) or their O365 tenant.  Box currently provides a seamless single sign on experience that gains eBay access to cloud hosted corporate data (can you say "I don't trust internal IT"?).  However, it is missing some key features that exist in Office 365 that should make you pause and reconsider your usage of Box.  This is the current experience with eBay Box:

eBay Box: 

Open the Box url, type your ebay email (do NOT type your password)…

 

Home Realm Discovery takes you to the eBay SSO (this is similar with Yammer and O365 solutions)

 

You are presented with your eBay Box application:

 

As you can see, not much going on.  Its just a web UI on top of some storage.  Very lame, very boring.  You don't get anything close to what Office 365 gives you!  But Box does have a couple of nice simple features that O365 does not have, keep reading…

O365 OneDrive:

Open the O365 login page (https://login.microsoftonline.com/) – maybe one day they will change this pic of Santa Monica to something else, been this same image for like 4 years now!

Enter your email and again, Home Realm Discovery takes you to the eBay SSO (this is similar with Yammer and O365 solutions)

 

Once logged in (and if you have a license assigned), you are presented with your O365 tenant.  

At this point, without saying anything…its pretty obvious who the winner is between O365 and Box. But let's do the apples to apples thing shall we?  Clicking on OneDrive, we get the following:

 

Both (OneDrive and Box) are similar when compared to each other directly.  But its the indirect comparisons (pick your poison, apple vs orange, which ever is better is O365) where O365 starts to kick the **** out of Box.  However, Box does have some things that OneDrive does not have…

Box is good at:

  • Notifications (although O365 "My Site" aka OneDrive has it, it is buried and not as friendly as Box):

  • Logging – I know where I logged in from and when.  Try to find that in your O365 UI!:

O365 is good at…everything else!

Look at all the stuff you get with O365…seriously?!?  Box thinks they can compete?  Not even close.  Narrow-minded silicon valley hippies that just managed to pull off getting an IPO for a set of managed disks (aka hard drives).

O365 is bad at…everything Box is good at.

Just look at the simple design of the administration pages above.  OneDrive is a My Site hence, you go to the Settings cog->Site Settings…umm…no.  This equates to you need special training to learn to manage your "My Site" aka OneDrive.  People don't give a flying flip about a "My Site" or "Site Settings".  They want the simplicity of Box in terms of the admin.  The day the O365 team makes OneDrive simple to use with these types of admin UIs is the day the damn thing will rule the world.  Until then…its not even close.  The tech is there, but the UI is not. 

Summary:

That all being said.  It is the ability for your OneDrive to be fed into the Office Graph and the Delve UI that makes it so exciting.  In the "OneDrive" image above, you will notice the "Delve Test" word document in my OneDrive.  In the image below (along with injected Twitter data), you will see the document has in fact been inserted into my Office Graph! 

 

Box doesn't have this, it's a simple web UI on top of some disk drives with Federated Auth ability…LAME!  Get off Box and go O365!

Chris 

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