Will Google Drive be welcome or a headache for IT?

April 25, 2012
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Google Drive, as TabTimes reported yesterday, is set to compete against other online storage lockers that let you store your documents, pictures and video files in the cloud such as Box, Dropbox, SugarSync and Apple’s iCloud. A key advantage of these services for mobile users is the ability to access and share these files from a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. 

While there’s already been plenty of competitive analysis as to how Google Drive stacks up compared to competitors, research and IT advisory firm Ovum thinks a bigger consideration is Google’s motivation in releasing the service. 

“For Google the platform potential of Google Drive is of strategic importance, leveraging its developer strengths and competitive pricing (50% cheaper than Apple’s iCloud in some cases) to drive penetration of its cloud offering via both consumer and enterprise channels,” says Mark Little, principal analyst at Ovum. 

“This is a major challenge to Apple’s iCloud and others whose propositions are selling cloud storage as a useful ancillary to using its applications,” adds Little. “The Google Drive proposition is the other way around, offering cloud storage as a core service from which users can access an ecosystem of highly useful applications.” 

Google includes Google Docs as part of the Google Drive and is actively wooing third party developers to bring additional applications to the service. 

As for the enterprise, another Ovum principal analyst, Richard Edwards, sees Google Drive’s adoption as “inevitable” within companies by users frustrated by the “measly storage quotas and message attachment size limitations” of corporate email systems. 

Edwards says that because of those limits, sharing and distribution of large corporate files, such as PowerPoint presentations, engineering drawings, and creative content, are an obvious use case for Google Drive which, like Box, offers users up to 5GB of free online storage.

But adoption of Google Drive on a random basis, may prove problematic for IT. 

“Concerned with data leakage and the loss of corporate intellectual property, the unsanctioned use of cloud storage services presents a real headache for corporate governance, risk, and compliance managers,” says Edwards. “Many organizations already block access to popular file sharing Web sites such as Dropbox, but Ovum believes there is an inevitability about the use of these services that warrants further investigation.” 

Last week at DEMO, Box CEO Aaron Levie acknowledged Google Drive will be a major competitor, but said Box has already established itself as a more enterprise-ready solution. Edwards agreed. 

“Ovum advocates the evaluation of business-grade cloud drive and collaboration solutions, such as Box and Huddle,” he said. “These services deliver user friendly, device agnostic, content sharing features similar to Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft SkyDrive, but they also feature management and administration capabilities that Ovum deems essential from a compliance and audit perspective.”

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